Zimbabwe’s Digital Divide: How the Government Plans to Bridge the Gap by 2030

A summary of the government’s strategies to improve digital literacy and connectivity in rural areas

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe aims to become a digital economy by 2030 but faces significant challenges in access, affordability, and skills in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector. The government has announced new strategies to improve digital literacy and connectivity, especially in rural areas, where only 20% of the population uses the internet.

According to the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Tatenda Mavetera, the government is engaging with mobile network operators and the regulator Potraz to address the issues of poor network coverage and high data costs. She said the government is also developing infrastructure and fostering innovation to enable communities to participate in and benefit from the data-driven digital economy.

The minister spoke at a joint commemoration of the World Post Day and the International Day for Universal Access to Information in Chivi, where she opened a Community Information Centre and a Public Finance Management System Kiosk. These facilities are part of the government’s efforts to bring services closer to the people and enhance efficiency and transparency.

The minister also highlighted the need to digitize the postal system and adopt a whole-of-government approach, where different ministries and departments collaborate to use the existing ICT platforms. She said the government will continue to promote digital literacy and empower communities to understand and use emerging technologies.

The minister’s remarks echo the findings of a recent report by the World Bank, which stated that digital transformation is at the core of boosting Zimbabwe’s economy and improving services. The report identified five pillars for digital transformation: digital infrastructure, digital financial services, digital government platforms, digital entrepreneurship, and digital skills. It also recommended a global framework for data flows, considering development objectives.

Zimbabwe is not alone in its quest to become a digital economy. According to a report by UNCTAD, global GDP will be 14% higher in 2030 due to AI, one of the key drivers of digital transformation. However, the report also warned of large imbalances and divides in the digital economy, with China and the United States dominating the market capitalization of digital platforms and most cross-border data flows.

To overcome these challenges, Zimbabwe must invest in its human capital, foster a conducive environment for innovation and collaboration, and ensure that its policies and regulations align with its vision and values. By doing so, Zimbabwe can harness the potential of ICTs to achieve its social and economic goals and contribute to global development.

Source: The Herald

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