|Govt warms up to ICT sector|
|Thursday, 21 June 2012 12:00|
THE Ministry of Finance is now contributing significantly to the development of the information communication technology sector, a Government official has said. Information Communication Technology permanent secretary Engineer Sam Kundishora told an ICT conference in Harare yesterday that fiscal contribution to the sector had grown significantly.
“The Ministry of Finance has finally realised the critical role played by ICTs in economic growth,” he said.
In this respect, Eng Kundishora urged local ICT firms to engage his ministry for future funding opportunities.
“Government needs to invest in targeted hardware and software development firms hence it is critical that as a ministry we are aware of what they are doing.
“It is these start-ups that form the core of the basic ICT industry from which the sector will grow,” he said.
While in other countries ICT start-ups have a myriad of funding opportunities — with mobile operators funding start-ups in some countries in the region — players in Zimbabwe are not so fortunate, which puts pressure on the Government to provide the lion’s share of funding.
In addition, the ICT permanent secretary said cheap and sub-standard ICT products were negatively affecting the sector. To this end the ministry was working on a strategy for their effective regulation.
“We are currently working with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe on how best we can restrict the inflow of sub-standard ICT products since their influx on the local market is hurting the sector,” he said.
Despite an incremental trend in respect of the country’s tele-density, start-up activity has been rather low as cheap ICT gadgets are affecting the viability of ICT business.
Speaking at the same event, Engineer Robert Ndlovu of Gateway Communications urged ICT players in the country to share infrastructure.
“There is currently a lot of duplicating of infrastructure at the moment by ICT firms, and resultantly a lot of infrastructure gaps.
“If these companies get to share backbone infrastructure, a lot of benefits can accrue to them, for instance, lower capital expenditure, increased capacity and throughput, revenue assurance and ease of technology transformation,” he said.
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe has indicated that it is currently working on an infrastructure-sharing framework. The framework is expected to compel local ICT companies to share backbone infrastructure among other things.
The poor state of backbone infrastructure in the country has resulted in limited Internet penetration. It has been noted that despite having around 12 Internet service providers (ISPs), usage of Internet in the country is still very limited.
Figures last year put the number of people using the Internet in Zimbabwe at around 1,2 million.