The United States has pledged to help Zimbabwe resolve its economic challenges by helping the country to explore its potential as a leading provider of Information Communication Technology services and solutions at regional and international scale.
Addressing delegates at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair business conference yesterday US ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Bruce Wharton said the country was uniquely positioned to benefit from the global ICTs industry estimated at $68 billion by 2013.
“The United States cares about Zimbabwe and wants it to prosper. So, we are doing what we can to help Zimbabweans explore and begin to take advantage of the incredible opportunities that Information, Communication Technology offers.
“Africa has the greatest Information Communication Technology growth potential of any continent, and Zimbabwe is far and away the nation in Africa best able to lead and profit from that growth,” he said.
“No other nation in Africa has the same powerful combination of intellectual capital, infrastructure and language capability that Zimbabwe has. Further, I believe that Zimbabwe has the potential to be a global player in ICT as well as a regional leader.”
He said Zimbabwe’s unique combination of intellectual capital; infrastructure and language abilities make it unbeatable in the ICT economy.
Ambassador Wharton said while locals tend to concentrate on traditional growth areas of agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism ICTs could help advance accelerate growth in these areas. He said that the US was working on helping further develop the ICTs industry in Zimbabwe through establishment of the country’s first technology hub, in much the same way that Hivos, Google and Omidyar Network helped natures ICT start ups in Kenya.
“Remember iHub, the Kenya tech incubator I mentioned earlier,” he said. “Well, we are seeking to replicate that success as one of three sponsors of the first technology hub in Zimbabwe, Hypercube.” Hypercube is providing the technology, connectivity, tools, and guidance that will help Zimbabweans launch new enterprises. It can also help to bridge the gap between potential investors and entrepreneurs.
Apart from various initiatives in nurturing and growing the ICTs ambassador Wharton said the US is working with Zimbabwean organisations to strengthen entrepreneurship and business development skills in youths by partnering with a micro-finance institution to expand access to credit for young entrepreneurs and providing mentorship opportunities to new micro- entrepreneurs.
In order to harness its potential in ICTs, he said Zimbabwe must develop and implement transparent, consistent, fiscally responsible policies and rebuild confidence in the economy and banking system. “The elements of these policies are not mysterious; they are what the governments of Zimbabwe’s neighbours do to attract investors, protect national interests, and grow the economy,” he said.