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'Zimbabwe can be tech hub'

by Staff reporter
10 Mar 2024 at 06:22hrs | Views
THE vice president of technology and society at Google, Dr James Manyika, believes Zimbabwe has the potential to become Southern Africa's technology hub and intends to leverage on his expertise to empower the country's young minds.

Yesterday, he met Information Communication Technology (ICT), Postal and Courier Services Minister Tatenda Mavetera in Harare.

"I don't see why Zimbabwe cannot be one of the regional hubs in this part of Africa for entrepreneurs, innovators and many others, including investors, who want to come and help launch things from Zimbabwe. It can be an extraordinary digital hub for the region," said Dr Manyika, who was also an adviser to former US President Barack Obama.

He said he was keen to empower young people in his home country.

"I am here in my personal capacity as a proud son of Zimbabwe and it's always wonderful to come home and see the exciting things that young people do here," he continued.

"I think we have to do this for the young people. There is incredible talent in this country and very smart students, young people. I have spent time with some of them. I think we have to do this for them. It's their future that we are trying to build. We cannot let them down."

Creating innovation systems, he said, will help nurture the technological expertise of young people.

"l think it's important to focus on an innovation ecosystem and hubs. I have seen what other countries, including Rwanda and Ghana, have done. We should be able to create something like that in Zimbabwe.

"I think the role of skills, education and learning is very important. I think we have to try to make sure we are creating a rich pipeline of skills, all the way from primary school, where kids learn to understand the role of technology so that they can grow with these technologies."

He advised Zimbabwe to prioritise addressing digital infrastructure gaps to develop the ICT sector.

"We have done some work looking at what we call digital sprinters, which make a big difference, especially in developing countries, so that they are able to take advantage of digital technology," Dr Manyika said.

"Three things come up. One is the role of digital infrastructure. The other is also reducing the cost of getting online. Most African countries have very high data costs.

"And then finally, there is an issue around the high cost of devices. So, if there's anything that the Government can do with its partners to help address these issues, I think Zimbabwe can capitalise on all these opportunities."

Minister Mavetera said the Government will tap into Dr Manyika's expertise to develop the ICT sector.

"We will continue engaging you. We are working on an e-commerce strategy. We are also working on an electronic transactions Bill and reviving our Postal and Telecommunications Act. It's also important for us to look at what our President is talking about, that we should not leave anyone behind. So, we need to make sure that we create policies and a conducive environment that enables every person in the ICT sector to thrive," she said.

Source - The Sunday Mail
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