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Mugabe out: what of Zim's tech future?

Mugabe out: what of Zim's tech future?

There is a need for change to permeate the ICT and telecoms industry, but the question remains as to what policy direction new leadership will take?

ICT and telecom experts say President Robert Mugabe's official resignation could herald a new chapter in the development of these key industries and usher in fresh opportunities for growth and investment. But former ICT Minister Nelson Chamisa is reserved in his outlook for now.

Chamisa served as ICT Minister for 4 years under Mugabe during the days of a unity government comprising Zanu PF and opposition parties following disputed elections in 2009.

As Zimbabweans across all sectors and political divides celebrated the resignation of Mugabe, Chamisa was less optimistic that the coming in of a new leader will immediately usher in better prospects for the ICT sector.

"It is tricky. Yes the president has changed, but we still have the same ministerial frameworks," Chamisa told ITWeb Africa by phone.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, deputy to Mugabe for the past three years until his removal from office earlier this month, is expected to be sworn in as the country's new President this week.

The sentiment is that Mnangagwa will come in as a reformist, although Chamisa wants to see the new leader's policy outline first before he can be sure of any possible opportunities for the ICT and telecom sectors.

"It is difficult to tell what the prospects will be like until we have seen the policy outline of the new leader. In this day and age we still do not have convergence in our ICT sector and this is a major drawback. We still have various regulatory bodies such as Transmedia, Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe operating separately when they are supposed to be under one roof," he said.

Competition rules

Chamisa also highlighted that under the current policy thrust, a lot of state ICT companies compete against each other "We still have companies such as NetOne, TelOne, Telecel competing against each other and also in the ISP arena where you have Powertel, TelOne and Zarnet competing. This wastes resources that could be directed elsewhere."

Harare-based ICT expert and consultant Chris Musodza expects the Cyber Security Ministry to be put on ice.

"We hope to see a toned down approach to policies on cyber space and the cyber security ministry would not be necessary. Judging by the pro-business stance by Mnangagwa, we are expecting him to soften up on the computer crimes bill which had raised many questions and worries," he told ITWeb Africa by phone.

Local mobile network operators did not respond to requests for comment.

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