Keep abreast of technology, says Muswere

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ZIMBABWE needs to remain on the technological innovation front if it entertains any hopes of keeping pace with the fast-changing world, a senior government official has said.

Speaking at the official launch of the second 2020 Hackathon held in Bulawayo yesterday, Information Communication Technology minister Jenfan Muswere, pictured, said the government was committed to providing an adaptable policy environment for the sector to grow.

“A country that does not innovate cannot, therefore, stay relevant in today’s fast-changing world of big data, Internet of things and artificial intelligence (AI), among other emerging technologies. These rapid changes in technology equally affect us as policy makers.

“The government, through my ministry, is, therefore, committed to creating an enabling environment for innovation to flourish in the country by providing a forward-looking and adaptable policy environment,” Muswere told  the gathering.

The Hackathon, which is running under the theme “#Hacking for SDGs post Covid-19 and beyond”, saw teams competing in proffering the most relevant ICT solutions to solve post Covid-19 socio-economic challenges that may hinder the country’s efforts towards attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Unlike the first Hackathon, which was only open to universities, this edition was open to all Zimbabweans who are passionate about technology and innovation, and had an idea or an existing innovation that fits the running theme. Applications for the competition opened on November 9 and closed on November 22, with 53 entries received.

However, only 12 teams managed to score over 50 percent or better, which was the lowest threshold for a proposal to be supported under the Innovation Drive.

Bulawayo and Harare had four teams each while Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Masvingo provinces had one each. Muswere, however, said the scale and ambition of the SDGs require innovation if the Vison 2030 agenda in which the government is targeting Zimbabwe to be an upper middleclass economy is to be achieved.

“Indeed, to achieve these ambitious goals, new modalities for development are required, including bringing innovation into the foreground of development projects.

“It is important to note that innovation is not only an explicit focus of Goal 9 which focuses on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation, but is also a key enabler of most, if not all, of the goals,” Muswere said.

Speaking at the same event, Potraz directorgeneral Gift Machengete said the ICT innovation drive “is aimed at identifying, supporting and capacitating ICT innovators in the country, in order to develop their ideas into bankable solutions for Zimbabwe and the global market”.

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