Recently speaking over World Information society forum, the minister of ICT Postal and Courier Services Hon Jenfan Muswere spoke on aray of challenges and opportunities Zimbabwe is facing under the Covid pandemic.
Asked What are the success factors for trading in the digital economy and how has Zimbabwe fared since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The minister presented the following response :
The digital economy offers opportunities for increased productivity, entrepreneurship, innovation, job creation and access to new markets.
There are a number of critical success factors for trade in the digital economy, and some of these relate to businesses, some to Governments and Policy makers and some to consumers.
For Business, a number of factors are critical, chief among them,
- The ability to adapt to changing environmental circumstances,
- The development of data driven decisions making,
- Exploiting the power of the internet to work effectively from home including e-learning, and a shift in distribution channels
Given the multifaceted nature of the digital economy, it is imperative that policymakers adopt a holistic approach to address a wide range of policy areas to maximize potential benefits, while mitigating the relevant risks. Critical Policy Interventions, include:
- Promoting subsidies and tax breaks and other policy related acts, the development and installation of adequate ICT Infrastructure, 5supported by adequate energy infrastructure.
- Facilitating free flow of data while protecting privacy
- Ensuring that public data is re-useable and discoverable
- Dealing with bureaucracy,
- Enhancing connectivity and inter-operability of digital platforms across all Sectors, and
- Promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.
Covid-19 has shown how glaringly most Countries were no ready for digital trade, as there were serious outcries across the globe.
Advanced technological and digital skills are essential to the development of an innovation culture, which is a prerequisite for success in the digital economy. It is therefore, incumbent upon governments to foster innovation hubs and bring together universities, laboratories, start-ups and large businesses, to innovate for the good of the economy and development. Zimbabwe has thriving innovation programmes and a wide reaching ICT skills training programme and this can increase the pace of development, both technologically and economically.
Due to the forward looking policies of the Zimbabwean Government, Zimbabwe has fared pretty well in terms of trade, both with external partners and among businesses and consumers, within the Country. The Zimbabwean ICT Policy resulted in a robust ICT Infrastructure network being installed throughout the Country, comprising both fibre and wireless technologies saw over 8.7 million internet subscriptions being recorded in the course of 2019. This has seen the economy and trade, becoming digital. More than new 200 base stations have been constructed.
When borders closed during the pandemic, online transactions between businesses in Zimbabwe and other Countries, become the norm, with delivery of goods between Zimbabwe and South Africa using a relay technic for drivers, so that crossing borders was minimised.
In Zimbabwe currently 89% of the transactions are through mobile financial services platforms.
The immediate Statutory Instrument 80 of 2020 Banking (Money Transmission, Mobile Banking and Mobile Money Interoperability) Regulations will this year, facilitate increased traffic on across banking and telecommunication network.
Whilst developing other e-learning platforms robust communication network, enabled the current online learning systems which some schools and some tertiary institutions are using in Zimbabwe so that students learn from home. Business meetings and social meetings, as well as church meetings, are now being held remotely, while most of Zimbabwe’s work force is working from home, assisted by the increased connectivity, and e-meeting platforms.
With regards to safety of transactions, use of electronic systems and building confidence in the use of ICTs, a Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill, which is set to become law shortly, is being debated in Parliament. In a nutshell, Zimbabwe has all the ingredients for successfully managing trade in the digital economy, both at home and abroad.
Zimbabwe is Open For Business
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