|Kudos to ICT Ministry for new policy draft|
|Wednesday, 01 August 2012 00:00|
The team has been holding consultative meetings with stakeholders throughout the country on the ICT policy since June this year.
The draft policy is expected to be presented to Cabinet once all the views gathered have been consolidated into the document.
ICT Minister Mr Nelson Chamisa, who attended the meeting, said there was an urgent need to craft such a policy to support the growth of ICTs in Zimbabwe.
The current policy was drafted in 2005 and is now outdated given the technological developments that have taken place since then.
The ICT policy director, Mrs Georgina Chingonzo, hinted that there would be a forum for specialist review and analysis after the collective process.
Among the guests invited to the meeting were experts from Intel South African Corporation, represented by the corporate affairs director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Thabani Khupe. He said that Zimbabweans need to make great efforts in promoting local entrepreneurs in the technological industry.
Apart from the presentations stakeholders were concerned that the National ICT policy review was being led by a consultant and a law expert and questioned the criteria used to select the consulting partners.
This issue was also raised at other consultative meeting where stakeholders highlighted that they were more comfortable with having ICT experts spearheading the process.
ICT ministry officials, however, said the consultative process did not necessarily require the services of an ICT expert as it just involved the collection of information.
Delegates also had time to brainstorm in five main groups on infrastructure, e-services, regional policy and regulatory frameworks, e-capacity building and content, research innovation and industry development.
The brainstorming sessions produced lengthy debates that culminated in constructive proposals.
A very interesting proposal came from the group that was focusing on e-tourism that was represented by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority executive, Chido Mushaya.
The group had some fascinating ideas about how ICTs can be fully integrated into the tourism sector ahead of the country jointly hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation summit with Zambia in Victoria Falls next year.
The group was of the opinion that a policy should be put in place compelling all tourism facilities to have an ICT hub to enhance communication for people who will be coming for the summit.
Another group called for policies that helps protect and safeguard minors from the dangers of social network like Facebook and internet pornography as most children are vulnerable to online victimisation.
The groups also called for the incorporation of representatives from all ministries in the ICT policy formulation process as the process had a direct impact on ministries and Government as a whole.
A delegate from South Africa, Mr Nkosana Moyo, said the ICT ministry should formulate the ICT framework before pushing for a policy review.
He advised that the framework will have to be spelt out first to clearly stand as the structure and skeleton of our ICT policy, once that is clearly defined, then we can push for the policy consultation.
There was also concern during the meeting about more time being devoted to speeches as opposed to questions and contributions.
Computer Society of Zimbabwe president Mr Artwell Mukusha said that the process should have been opened up to ensure that all views are taken on board to avoid rubber stamping views of a few.
“I remember vividly during the 2005 policy, that we started with a process of identifying our national vision which was at that time: ‘To transform Zimbabwe into a knowledge based society by the year 2020’.
“This was supported by the mission statement: ‘To accelerate development and application of ICTs in support of sustainable socio-economic growth and development in Zimbabwe’.
“This process was undertaken through a full consultative process where submissions were made from various stakeholders until such a time all these stakeholders came to a consensus that it reflected their views and was ready to be launched,” he said.
However, despite the concerns and views raised the ICT ministry should be commended for initiating the policy review.
It really takes a lot of time and resources to review a policy and all the stakeholders involved should fully support the process. It would be greatly misplaced and unfair to have stakeholders who did not attend the meeting commenting or discrediting the process as the platform was open for all who seriously have the development of local ICTs at heart.
The writer is a computing specialist with http://tech.co.zw. More on Facebook`s Technomag, http://facebook.com/technomagzw, twitter @technomagzw. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.