Kazembe: Investment in infrastructure key to unlocking Africa’s digital economy

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By Ebenezzer Sibanda

ZIMBABWE is working hard to bridge the rural-urban gap as regards access to internet, Information Communication Technology Minister Kazembe Kazembe said last week.

Kazembe was speaking at the just ended India-Africa ICT expo held in Kigali, Rwanda at which he called for greater investments in infrastructure.

“What we are doing in Zimbabwe to bridge the digital gap is we have deployed towers in the marginalised areas, we have installed 20 000km of fibre, ensuring each and every village has access to internet through our regulator, the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) and to date we gave established 146,” Kazembe Kazembe said.

“The biggest challenge we are facing in Africa is about infrastructure. We have infrastructure gaps whilst some are talking of artificial Intelligence therefore, Africa should unite, help each other grow as well as develop infrastructure to carter for a greater number of people.”

Potraz has established community information centres across the country, taking advantage of infrastructure owned by the old Post Office Savings Bank located in every district of Zimbabwe.

Kazembe added: “ To ensure that the digital economic era is inclusive, we need a Smart African alliance were different countries focus on different specialities depending on their strengths so that there is no duplication.”

Speaking at the same occasion, Rwandese ICT and Innovation Minister Paula Ingamire called for harmonisation of regulatory frameworks.

“To enable a single market we have to think of how to harmonise the policies and regulations so that if a transaction is made on the same platform where Africans are buying and selling, we need to ensure that the billing information the same way it is treated in Rwanda must be the same way in Malawi for example,” Ingamire told delegates.

The Smart Africa Initiative, with funding support from World Bank and Africa Development Bank and in partnership with Indian ICT companies, is expected to be a game changer for the global ICT sector.

Experts argue that a focus on the growth of ICTs and targeted investment in the sector will highly likely awaken a “sleeping economic giant” that Africa is anchored on the digital economy ton accelerate and transform the continent.