Now that the inauguration has taken place, Zimbabwe's ICT/ Tech sector eagerly anticipates the implementation of policies and initiatives that will pave the way for growth and innovation. We have identified several key priorities that can propel the sector forward, ensuring competitiveness, investment, and technological advancement.
Enactment of a Startup Act:
To foster the growth of tech startups, it is crucial to establish a Startup Act that clearly defines this sector and distinguishes it from SMEs. This act should address important issues such as recognition of financial instruments like SAFEs (Simple Agreements for Future Equity), providing startups with access to funding and support tailored to their unique needs.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Emerging Technologies Strategy:
Recognizing the power and potential of AI, it is essential to develop a strategic plan to embrace and harness these emerging technologies. By being ahead of our regional peers in AI adoption, we can safeguard our industry's interests and create opportunities for innovation and economic growth.
Establishment of an Innovation Development Board:
To accelerate investments in the ICT/ Tech sector, the creation of an Innovation Development Board is vital. This board would streamline processes, provide incentives, and facilitate partnerships between local and international investors, enabling the sector to thrive.
Appointment of Tech-Savvy Presidential and Cabinet Advisors:
To ensure informed decision-making at the highest level, it is imperative to have tech-savvy advisors who can provide valuable insights and guidance on ICT-related matters. Their expertise would contribute to policy development, strategic planning, and the effective implementation of initiatives.
Creation of Provincial SEZs for Tech:
Expanding Special Economic Zones (SEZs) beyond mining, agriculture, and tourism to include tech-focused zones can attract investment, foster innovation, and drive regional development. These dedicated zones would provide an environment conducive to technological advancements, attracting local and foreign tech companies.
Introduction of CTOs in Public Sector Entities:
Appointing Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) in each public sector entity, reporting directly to a Digital Innovations Office, would enhance digital transformation efforts. CTOs would spearhead technological initiatives, drive efficiency, and ensure effective adoption of digital solutions throughout the public sector.
Collaboration with Foreign Affairs for Tech Ambassadors:
To strengthen international partnerships and attract investment, it is crucial to appoint qualified Tech Ambassadors who can engage with global technology hubs like Silicon Valley, Shenzhen, and Singapore. These ambassadors would represent Zimbabwe's tech industry, fostering collaboration, and promoting investment opportunities overseas.
Encouraging Competition in the Telecom Sector:
To benefit consumers, it is essential to foster a competitive environment in the telecom sector. Encouraging Telecel to find new shareholders and management would increase competition among Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), leading to improved services and pricing for the public.
Implementation of an OpenGov Framework:
Promoting transparency and collaboration, an OpenGov framework should be created and implemented across all ministries and public sector entities. This framework would ensure open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), enabling developers to build innovative solutions without undue restrictions, beyond the current contractor-driven approach.
Introduction of an E-Resident Program:
To attract tech workers, investors, and remote workers, the implementation of an E-Resident program is essential. This program would facilitate the entry and participation of individuals in the tech sector, even for short-term visits, contributing to knowledge exchange, investment, and economic growth.
As Zimbabwe's ICT/ Tech sector looks ahead to a promising future, the implementation of these priorities can propel the industry to new heights. Embracing startups, emerging technologies, innovation, and international collaborations will position Zimbabwe as a regional leader in the digital era, fostering economic growth, job creation, and sustainable development. By focusing on these key areas, we can unlock the immense potential of the ICT/ Tech sector and pave the way for a prosperous future.