Government’s Information Communication Technologies innovation drive has started yielding results as Zimbabwe bagged two awards at the just ended International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecom World 2017 held in Busan, South Korea, last week.
Zimbabwe, through the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), was recognised with a Certificate of Excellence as a valuable ITU partner while the reigning national ICT young innovation drive champion — Mr Clive Nyapokoto was recognised with an accolade of excellence in providing and promoting innovative ICT solutions with social impact.
Mr Nyapokoto was one of the young ICT innovators, who travelled to South Korea as part of the Zimbabwean delegation headed by Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira. Minister Mandiwanzira was also accompanied by officials from his ministry, POTRAZ and local ICT operators. Minister Mandiwanzira said he was grateful for the international recognition of Government’s initiatives.
“As Government, we believe and we are confident of the potential of our youths. As you are aware, ICT is a key driver to socio-economic development and this drive is a deliberate effort to transform the economy into a digital powerhouse through harnessing innovations of the young people to promote development and transformation.
“These awards by the ITU, are an endorsement of His Excellency, President Robert Mugabe’s vision to provide technological solutions to communities in a quest to bridge the technological divide,” he said.
Mr Nyapokoto, a final year Software engineer at the Harare Institute of Technology, charmed ITU adjudicators with his start-up, which is a smart integrated organic farming system called the VA system Vermi-Aquaponics. It combines vermiculture, aquaponics, small livestock and Information Communication Technology.
The system utilises animal waste in the provision of nutrients for the plants and Information Communication Technology is used to remotely monitor and manage the system through any Internet-enabled device. Mr Nyapokoto could not hide his joy and appreciation to the Government for coming up with this initiative.
“I would like to thank the Government through POTRAZ for affording us the opportunity to be part of the delegation, which exposed us to the world. This award belongs to all the ICT innovators who responded to the call for submissions from POTRAZ. Though my project came out tops during the national category and now recognised by the World Telecoms body, I am aware and confident that most of the projects by other innovators in Zimbabwe are world class and can change the ICT sector, through providing the much needed ICT solutions and I just advocate for the Government to continue with this noble initiative,” he said.
Mr Nyapokoto won the best ICT innovator award last year, through a Government programme, which is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services and implemented by POTRAZ.
The ICT Innovation drive is an initiative funded to the tune of $25 million, which targets ICT innovators, start-ups and entrepreneurs to come up with their innovations and access funding. POTRAZ director-general Dr Gift Machengete said the recognition by the ITU was humbling and challenges them in carrying out their mandate.
“We are grateful and humbled to be honoured at this prestigious event. This challenges us to sustain our efforts of carrying out our mandate of connecting the unconnected and promoting innovation thus enabling socio economic development.
“We want to thank the Government for their policy direction especially on the ICT innovative drive. The young innovator Clive has a very exceptional innovative product and the reason why we came with him and other innovators here was that their projects came out tops nationally and we felt they were competitive on the global arena. I urge other young Zimbabweans to take the ICT innovation drive seriously as we want to empower them because there is so much potential for innovation in many areas globally,’’ he said.
POTRAZ has been on an aggressive drive to promote innovation, consumer protection and awareness initiatives which have seen campaigns being held around the country.