By Anyway Yotamu.
Zimbabwe is committed to collaborating with other African states to adopt modern ICT technologies to drive the continent’s economic growth agenda and attain sustainable development goals.
This came out this Monday as President Emmerson Mnangagwa attended the Smart Africa Alliance’s 9th Board Meeting which was virtually hosted by the Smart Africa Board Chair His Excellency President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
Zimbabwe is one the seven countries to join the African Union Smart Africa Alliance, among other private sector partners.
The Smart Africa Alliance is a voluntary grouping of member states which seeks to collaborate in the adoption of modern ICT technologies to drive Africa’s economic growth by creating a single digital market.
In his opening remarks, President Kagame highlighted how the adoption of ICT technologies will give Africa a competitive edge in spearheading economic growth and development in the modern digital era.
“I want to emphasise how important the partnership with the private sector is. We will continue working together with you very closely to make the necessary investments and also ensure a common standing of how to proceed. This is especially evident in the process of recovering from covid. The pandemic has shown that connectivity is not a luxury; it is a necessity.
“The provision of health and education services depends on digital infrastructure. The good jobs of the future also rely on technology skills and a digital identity. The mission of smart Africa really sits at the centre of everything we are trying to do as a continent and with our partners around the world,” he said.
Africa Development Bank President Dr Akenumwi Adesina addressed the meeting on the importance of smart techniques in unlocking Africa’s youth dividend and driving the fourth industrial revolution.
In his remarks, President Emmerson Mnangagwa unveiled the Zimbabwe smart concept roadmap for its economic sectors, including smart agriculture.
“Zimbabwe continues to streamline ICTs as a crosscutting enabler for socio-economic development to fully exploit the immense potential of ICTs, inclusive guidelines continue to be developed, deployed and managed for national development and transformation.
“Key among those is the Smart Zimbabwe ICT Masterplan, which permeates through integrated sector-specific pillars. This will see smart solutions being deployed to achieve smart government, smart agriculture, smart cities, smart transport and smart health,” said President Mnangagwa.
President Mnangagwa also highlighted how ICTs and smart concepts will be key enablers for the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
He said: “There is need therefore to re-calibrate our focus under this Smart Africa initiative towards the realisation of socio-economic integration and intra-Africa trade as envisioned under the ACFTA.”
Heads of States and Government from Zambia, Chad, Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo also presented their country’s plans to facilitate Africa’s smart Development concept while private sector partners such as Orange, Soft Bank, the World Bank and European Union also attended the meeting.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo and his ICT, Postal and Courier Services counterpart Dr Jenfan Muswere were also in attendance during the virtual meeting.
In the 2021 National Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated over eight billion Zimbabwe dollars towards funding for various ICT interventions across all sectors to reaffirm government’s commitment to achieve an upper middle income status by 2030.