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Zimbabwe aims to be one of Africa's biggest IT hubs

Zimbabwe aims to be one of Africa’s biggest IT hubs

Government allocates ZWL$341.7-million towards ICT research and development.

Zimbabwe's Finance Ministry has allocated ZWL$341.7-million (approximately US$942,249,67) towards ICT, with research and development, and 'modernisation' listed as priorities.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the funds will go towards developing the Smart Zimbabwe 2030 Master Plan and assist in the roll out of the national e-government program.

The Smart Zimbabwe 2030 Master Plan is an all-inclusive guideline that outlines how the country will develop, deploy and manage ICTs across all sectors.

He added that the rapid development and adoption of ICTs has been transforming every sector of the local economy. The second quarter of 2019 reflected a mobile penetration rate of 84.8%, an internet penetration rate of 57.2%, and a static fixed tele-density of 1.9%.

Zimbabwe's government aims to develop the infrastructure required for VoIP, complete its digitalisation migration project and unlock additional spectrum opportunities.

The digitalisation migration project is expected to 'open up' the telecoms market to increased competition and accommodate an additional operator.

The minister said the government envisages building one of the continent's biggest IT hubs underpinned by big data and AI.

According to Ncube, the government is looking to establish a coding and programming academy, as well as co-working and co-creation spaces for the youth and start-ups in particular.

Ncube also confirmed budget allocation for the launch of the country's first satellite. "Research and development are critical for Zimbabwe's social-economic transformation and competitiveness, as the country strives to attain Vision of 2030. The budget has set aside resources for research and Development programme, including the launch of a space satellite".

Telecoms expert and former NetOne chief executive officer, Reward Kangai delved into the implications of the satellite for the country and said: "For ICTs, satellites can provide total country coverage, albeit limited in terms of bandwidth (internet speeds), latency (round trip of radio signal delay can be as long as a quarter of a second, which is significantly long)... The advantage of having own satellite for Zimbabwe would be small ground terminal antennae due to spot beams, employment creation on ground ... terminal maintenance and operations personnel for telemetry, tracking, control and monitoring of satellite.On the down side, would require insurance costs against satellite launch failure."

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