In a recent interview conducted with IT News Africa, Zimbabwe’s MDC Minister of Communications and Technology, Nelson Chamisa, confirmed that the process of stabilising Zimbabwe’s political and economic landscape is in place and progressing.
“The country is in a period of rebuilding and the timing for investment could not be better,” he said.
The Minister is also on record as saying that Zimbabwe is moving ahead with plans to push its ICT sector to “the next level” by 2015, orchestrated through the Zimbabwe National ICT Policy Framework, first launched in 2007 and adapted to keep up with industry developments.
Part of the government’s plan is to rollout e-communication Information Kiosks in rural areas. The objective is to provide access to all ICT facilities to locals, including the Internet, printers, phones and other resources.
Minister Chamisa also reiterated the country’s official position on the indigenisation and empowerment legislation that compels foreign owned companies to surrender 51% of their stakes or equity, saying that a policy framework was in place to ensure that there would be no application of the 51% threshold to new investors.
“The climate is conducive to investment. We are focusing on connectivity, on establishing a legislative environment that encourages growth and investment, there are more opportunities. We also have powerful HR, with wonderful people,” said the Minister. “We are creating a óne-stop-shop’ scenario for those entering the country to do business and we have structures in place to deal with any problems.”
According to the UN Development Programme World Investment Report 2012, Zimbabwe’s FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) inflows in 2011 more than doubled to US$ 387 million.
It is hoped that this will allay fears amongst those eager to tap into the emerging markets within the country’s broader economy, most notably the ICT sector.
A Household Download Index report conducted by- and featured on Speedtest.net, which compares and ranks consumer download speeds* internationally, ranks Zimbabwe amongst the top five African countries with an average speed of 5.13Mbps.
* (The value is the rolling mean throughput in Mbps where the mean distance between the client and the server is less than 300 miles.)
World stats regarding Internet usage show that Zimbabwe is growing in stature. In December 2000 the country had 50,000 Internet users and by 31 December 2011 the figure stood at 1, 445, 717, representing a population penetration of 12,0%.
It is a foundation the Zimbabwean government wants to exploit to help stabilise the economy and drive ICT development and realise the objectives of its ICT policy.
To outsiders it would seem the Southern African country has positioned ICT at the forefront of its economic reformation.
Regulation is a core component of this reformation. In August 2012 Zimbabwe’s Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) put in place new licensing agreements with mobile phone operators in the country.
At the heart of this co-operation is adherence to a section of the new laws that compels mobile operators to share telecommunications infrastructure and adopt sophisticated technologies.
Key service providers, including the likes of Econet, Net One and Telecel, are required to accept the new laws when renewing their current contracts, which will be up for review next year.