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Solving youth unemployment problem in Zimbabwe by leveraging digital economy

by Staff writer
25 Nov 2020 at 04:24hrs | Views
Zimbabwe is renowned the world over as a top tourist destination in southern Africa and one of the African countries with a vast natural resource endowment. Tourism and agriculture have been the country's main economic pillars since the 2008 crisis. Zimbabwean economy had been on a steady decline since 2000, but the state of affairs plummeted in 2008 following political upheavals. Understandably, the instability has ultimately led to reduced economic opportunities more so, for the youth.
Like most African countries, Zimbabwe's biggest asset is its strategic population comprised of a youth majority. Where else the youth population has been sidelined in the traditional economic structure, the future labour market is projected to favour them more. According to the 2019 World Development Report, technology and innovation are the main drivers of the futuristic digital economy. The digital economy will require a new set of skills, adaptability, creative thinking and digital fluency. Now is the time for Zimbabwe to be proactive and re-skill the country's labour force to leverage lucrative digital opportunities.
Already, the country's young population is showing great interest in increasing their digital fluency. This enthusiasm is mainly expressed by young Zimbabweans seeking opportunities abroad. Take, for instance, the growing population of Zimbabwe immigrants in Canada. Over 60% of Zimbabwean immigrants have settled in Ontario with the rest of the population spread out across other major cities like Toronto, British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta. Here many are developing successful digital careers and even taking advantage of the rapidly growing Canadian eSports industry. Such trends can help solve the youth unemployment crisis in Zimbabwe, and here is how the government can chip in.
Formulating Policies That Empower Digital Economic Growth
The Zimbabwean government should formulate friendly policies in preparation for a thriving digital economy. Currently, very few regulations govern the use of technology and operations of online businesses in the country.
The government ought to update its laws to ensure no monopolies develop to limit future opportunities. Online businesses are capable of exponential growth. New laws would protect small digital enterprises run by the youth from Cybercrime such as hacking and online fraud as well as safeguarding them from unregulated foreign competition.
Policies should also control the quality of services and products to ensure technology is not used with harmful intent against the citizens.
Creating an Enabling Environment with Improved Infrastructure

African countries have the poorest spread of electricity and internet connectivity. As a developing country, Zimbabwe should direct most of its resources to create an economic backbone for the digital economy. Besides, low spread electricity and poor internet connectivity are the main factors counteracting technological development in the country. 
Since the government can't empower the whole country at once, it would be best to equip the youth with productive resources such as the internet, which would expose them to the rest of the world.
Most Zimbabwe students drop out at upper primary level and high school. The government should provide computer studies in junior schools and also create tertiary institutions where the youth can learn digital skills.
Promoting the Cooperation of the Public and Private Sectors

The government needs to collaborate efforts from both the local and international operators in the growing digital economic niche. The best way to channel the participation of vast business enterprises would be to promote the cooperation of the economy's public and private sectors. Businesses would then have a more flexible economy to try new technologies from different parts of the world.
The cooperation of public and private sectors will also create a more efficient economic system since it would reduce the existing redundancies. By facilitating a common business ground, public-private cooperation would promote the production of high-quality goods and services.
Enhancing Education Environment
Digital education can be promoted in many ways, including adopting education technology such as TV and Internet learning. School curriculum should also be reviewed to integrate technology by providing lessons such as ICT and making them accessible countrywide. The issue of early school dropouts is currently a big problem. Therefore, the best way to educate the population would be to provide the learning of consumer, productive, E-leadership, and developer digital skills at the most basic level.
Building Digital Infrastructure
Digital infrastructure needs to be sufficient for a digital economy to thrive. Currently, African countries, including Zimbabwe, have a low supply of such infrastructure. Network supply is also a significant issue that needs addressing. If the government contributes to the supply of network, the people will have access to cheaper internet, hence providing a favorable e-commerce ground to attract investors.
Many countries are now investing in smart cities, and Zimbabwe should consider this in efforts to leverage a digital economy. Technology-wise, Africa is lagging in internet distribution compared to other parts of the world. However, since 2004, the planet has had the most significant growth of internet access. New global investors have their sights on Africa due to its unexploited market. Zimbabwe has an incredible opportunity to negotiate terms with international developers and make deals that can change the current economic stagnation.

Source - Byo24News
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