Zim to draw ICT lessons from India
Enacy Mapakame Business Reporter
Zimbabwe will draw big lessons from India’s progress in the digital economy when the south Asian country’s envoy Mr Vijay Khanduja speaks at the annual ICT Digital Conference to be held next week in Victoria Falls.
With a population of about 1,4 billion and more than 560 million internet users, India is the second largest digital consumer market in the world.
Organisers of the conference, Global Renaissance Investments (GRI), said India’s digital public infrastructure had proved to be an efficient model for delivering digital services and promoting digital inclusion.
“With high penetration of mobile internet devices, new financial technologies and a budding ecommerce sector, the Indian economy is witnessing a growing shift from cash payments to digital payments,” said GRI chief executive officer Ngoni Dzirutwe.
“This digital transformation has created opportunities across the finance value chain for the Government, fintechs, investors and private organisations to work together to pave the way for a greater digital economy in the country.”
According to the International Data Corporation, global investment in digital transformation will reach US$2,8 trillion in 2025, which is more than half of all the spending on information and communication technology.
Mr Dzirutwe noted that just like in other emerging markets, shifts in consumer behaviour as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have made ecommerce a rapidly growing sector in India.
“In the past, there has been a digital divide in India as a result of digital illiteracy, poor infrastructure and low internet speed, all of which can be attributed to the fact that the country remains more rural than urban, a fact that has also created economic disparities across both consumers and businesses,” he said.
To bridge this divide, added Mr Dzirutwe, the Indian government is aiming to achieve a low-cost digital economy that is home-grown and inclusive.
“An initiative called ‘Digital India’ was launched by the Indian government in July 2015. The goal is to become a US$5 trillion economy within a decade by establishing a secure and stable digital infrastructure, delivering digital services and ensuring that every citizen has access to the internet.
“So, there’s a lot that Zimbabwe can learn from India to help our economy to attain the 2030 Vision of becoming an upper middle-income nation as pronounced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.”
Mr Dzirutwe said GRI worked in partnership with countries and private investors to promote digital public infrastructure to help deepen financial inclusion, improve the efficiency of service delivery and solve global challenges by leveraging technology.
On its part, Zimbabwe is depending on technology to drive economic growth and reduce inequalities through friendly policies.
Information Communication and Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister of Dr Jenfan Muswere, who will be the guest of honour at the conference running from 27 to 29 March in Victoria Falls, said the National Development Strategy (NDS1) was anchored on a digitally enabled economy.
“The Government is reaffirming its commitment to the attainment of a digital economy and a knowledge society for all Zimbabweans. Access to ICTs and effective participation in the digital economy remains critical in improving the quality of life for all the people of Zimbabwe, those in cities and towns and those in rural areas alike,” he said at the launch of 10 Community Information Centres in Harare recently.
“I would like to highlight, at this juncture, that growth in the ICT sector can only be achieved when we have a large pool of qualified personnel in the different spheres of the ICT industry. It is important therefore, that the right skills and competencies must be in place at all levels.”