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Infrastructure and skills challenges hold back Zim’s ICT sector

A draft policy framework report on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Zimbabwe has identified inadequate communications infrastructure, inadequate ICT facilities and skills as some of the major challenges the sector is facing.
The report is part of efforts to revamp the country’s ICT sector through promoting usage of emerging technologies in the economy and business, governance and education. Finance minister Tendai Biti this month presented a $3.8 billion budget for 2013.

The government has allocated about $7, 244 000 to grow and boost the ICT sector after identifying finalisation of internet connectivity through fibre optic, ramping up the country’s teledensity, enhancing usage of ICTs in education and the full adoption of e-governance as major priority areas.
Despite this, the ICT ministry has identified “inadequate communications infrastructure” as a major challenge for the sector.
“Due to the lack of affordable and widespread broadband infrastructure in the country, it has not been easy for government to put services online when only a small minority of the population has internet access,” says the draft policy framework report.
It also says inadequate ICT facilities are hampering the growth of the sector in Zimbabwe, with “shortages of electricity having adverse effects on the development and use of ICT”.
Another constraint identified in the report centres around inadequate ICT skills. It says the shortage of skilled manpower in unrolling ICT education in schools starting from the earliest stages compromises the skills base for ICT development and adoption.
Other areas identified as needing urgent attention include “inadequate data management systems” as well as a “stringent licensing regime” that has resulted in the “limited number of players in the sector”.
Biti said during his 2013 budget statement that Zimbabwe should be networked internationally by 2014.
Experts say the fibre optic cable connectivity projects being undertaken in the country will carry at high speeds massive amounts of mobile phone, television, internet and other telecommunication signals.
Connectivity through optic fibre is also expected to lower internet access costs in the country and further develop the ICT sector.


Originally published in ITWebAfrica on 28 November 2012 by Tawanda Karombo

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