Zimbabwe: ZWL$8bn earmarked for ICT investment
Zimbabwe has set aside ZWL$8-billion to invest in the country’s ICT sector in 2021, with fibre optic network infrastructure, digital TV and access to online public services identified as key focus areas.
This is according to the country’s Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube who spelled out the government’s plan as part of the 2021 National Budget, official presented last week.
According to the Minister, the NetOne National Expansion Project Phase II will kick off next year with US$71-million in funding from the Exim Bank of China, of which ZWL$1.9-billion will be utilised in 2021, mainly for the roll out of 4G network infrastructure.
Ncube said: “Through the Universal Services Fund, POTRAZ has set aside ZWL$500-million for the construction of ten base stations, with the infrastructure being shared by all players in the industry.”
Zimbabwe continues to struggle with double-digit contraction of agriculture, electricity, and water production.
Ncube said, however, that the economy is projected to rebound by 7,4% from a consecutive two-year downturn.
ICT analyst Brighton Musonza said the Minister was not inspiring in terms of the country’s digital ambitions and that allocated funds must prepare the country’s “skilling pathways and training programmes to meet this demand and ensure that young people who need those jobs the most are brought into the digital economy.”
Musonza believes that over the next five years, machine learning and data management skills will grow in importance, with data analysts emerging as the most sought-after.
Potraz Director General Gift Machengete applauded the Minister and said COVID-19 has demonstrated the need for a highly efficient national ICT system.
Economist Persistence Gwanyanya said: “In the Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 50% of schools are not even connected to an energy source or to the grid. This tells us that Africa needs to accelerate investment in renewable energy and ICT infrastructure.”