Zim set to transform into Africa biggest tech hub with China’s help

Technology

qz.com
THERE’S a quiet buzz in Zimbabwe right now for the opportunity of informational and communications technology might have as a transformational impact on the beleaguered economy.
The southern African country, which has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, is looking to China to help building capacity and technological know-how to build one of the continent’s biggest IT hubs underpinned by big data and artificial intelligence.
Zimbabwe’s tech industry has arguably performed better than other companies in the troubled economy of the last decade and a half under former president Robert Mugabe.
The big telecom companies have bumped up investment into enhancing data capacity and capability, led by Econet, the No.1 telco, has spent $1.3 billion over the last decade to expanding its 3G and LTE networks.
There’s a quiet buzz in Zimbabwe right now for the opportunity of informational and communications technology might have as a transformational impact on the beleaguered economy.
The southern African country, which has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, is looking to China to help building capacity and technological know-how to build one of the continent’s biggest IT hubs underpinned by big data and artificial intelligence.
Zimbabwe’s tech industry has arguably performed better than other companies in the troubled economy of the last decade and a half under former president Robert Mugabe.
The big telecom companies have bumped up investment into enhancing data capacity and capability, led by Econet, the No.1 telco, has spent $1.3 billion over the last decade to expanding its 3G and LTE networks.
“We will also be contributing in the building of national artificial intelligence,” said Nigel Sheima Muguza, an official with the special advisor to the presidency.
He highlighted the government’s ambition to see Zimbabwe become a middle income country by 2030.
“This can be achieved by use of ICT to improve the day to day lives of the citizens of this country.” he explained.
Special advisor Chris Mutsvangwa said the facial recognition project will not only be deployed for security purposes but will be expanded “to assist in disaster response and traffic control,” with the cameras being part of “a bigger picture whereby we are moving towards smart cities with power, water management among other projects which will be done from one central location”.
Average internet speeds in Zimbabwe appear to be moderate as the country is ranked eighth in Africa , with 2.49Mbps download speeds compared to Kenya and South Africa which have average download speeds of 9Mbps and South Africa 4.36Mbps respectively.
But it’s not all straightforward for Zimbabwe’s tech and smart city aspirations as the cost of internet in the country is high, especially when staked against the country’s economic performance which is negated by low foreign direct investment inflows.
Mobile internet access is mostly through $1 daily data bundles for around 250MB and weekly limited social media bundles offered by operators. The Alliance for Affordable Internet says 1GB of mobile data “costs nearly 45% of a citizen’s average income”.

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