ZIMBABWE should use the opportunity presented by the Covid-19 pandemic to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to drive economic growth, experts have said.
This comes as ICTs have been identified as drivers for economic growth as well as a facilitator for business continuity in these challenging times.
Never Ncube, Dandemutande chief executive, said Zimbabwe should embrace a digital economy, which will help the country to seize opportunities created by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and gain comparative advantages in international competition.
“ICTs are going to change the way we have been doing business and improve productivity in all sectors of the economy,” he said on an online platform organised by Global Renaissance Investment (GRI) on Thursday.
Ncube added that it was critical for the government to outline strategies for Zimbabwe to become a smart nation that has a digital and future-ready society, vibrant and sustainable economy as well as a conducive digital ecosystem.
“We must utilise ICTs to create smart cities, smart transport systems and to achieve the US$12 billion target in the mining sector,” he said.
Ncube’s announcement follows recent indications that the global economy is undergoing restructuring, and there is a broad international consensus that emerging digital technologies can foster new economic growth points and create new competitive advantages.
Given the advantage of a large-scale market, a complete industrial system, an innovation-led internet ecosystem and several other positive factors, developing the digital economy is an inevitable choice for Zimbabwe to adapt to and lead the global economic development trend.
Prosper Mutswiri, PowerTel marketing manager, said the country should move towards embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution as it forges to improve efficiencies in all sectors of the economy.
“Everything starts and revolves around technology. ICT companies working closely with all sectors must now work on integrating all their working systems and data in order to develop a seamless service delivery through technology.
“While Covid-19 has brought a lot of challenges to Zimbabwe, it has also brought new thinking and accelerated innovation among operators where service provision has been moved from the elite category to essential services because of the advent of virtual reality as customers now demand services from the comfort of their homes,” he said speaking on the same platform.
Ngoni Dzirutwe, the GRI chief executive, also weighed in and said the development of the digital economy will also help hedge the uncertainty caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, and create a macroeconomic “tool” to stabilize Zimbabwe’s economic fundamentals, generate more jobs, help ease market players’ hardships and revive the industrial and supply chains.
“The pre-outbreak economic downturn had already created huge employment pressure, and the epidemic has made it all the more urgent for Zimbabwe to take measures to ease this pressure,” he said.
Before Zimbabwe was hit by the global pandemic, the country was already facing its worst economic crisis market by shortages of foreign currency, raw materials, fuel and electricity among other things.
Dzirutwe said to overcome the difficulties created by the outbreak and turn the crisis into an opportunity, many business should accelerate their digital transformation and intelligent upgrading.
“Digital technology can also be deeply integrated with financial services, fiscal and tax support systems, so as to more effectively help market players to overcome difficulties,” he said.