Last week I managed to download a copy of the 273 page Zimbabwe budget speech transcript that Minister of Finance Tendai Biti shared with the country. I have not read the whole speech (273 pages is a lot to consume in a few days) but I have managed to read the section I am mainly concerned about, Information Communication Technolology.
The minister starts of by acknowledging that information communication technology (ICT) has become an indispensable part of the world economy, providing vast opportunities for every citizen to participate in socioeconomic activities as well as improve access to markets, jobs, business, education and training.
Minister Biti states that since 2009 the interventions listed below have been the core focus for the government in relation to ICT:
- Fibre Optic Backbone Infrastructure.
- Mobile Tele-Density.
- Broadcasting Transmission Infrastructure.
- ICT for Education.
- E-Government Applications.
Among those 5 focus areas, the most important one in my opinion is ICT for Education. Rolling out e-learning programmes that promote understanding of technology among the Zimbabwean youth is vital. We simply need to get the youth to understand where technology fits in their lives and the possible impact it can have. The minister also mentions government’s plans to roll out an e-learning programme targeting 80 schools countrywide.
I also believe the private sector should step in as a form of social responsibility and launch similar programmes, facilitated by the Ministry of education of course. Minister of education, Senator David Coltart has been driving the need for ICT to be injected in our youth and school system since his appointment. He has also managed to gather some useful funds from donors to support this process.
ICT as I have always said, should remain a top priority for government if we are looking at fast tracking Zimbabwe’s development. The fact that it forms part of the national budget shows positive signs of progress. However we still have a long way to go if we want to stand among the technology giants of this world!