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ATF 2023: We are not in competition, collaboration is key – Zimbabwe ICT minister

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African countries need not be in competition when it comes to bridging the digital divide and governments need to realise this. Instead, collaboration is key to success.

These were the sentiments shared by Zimbabwe's Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Tatenda Mavetera during a ministerial panel discussion hosted by Huawei on day zero of the Africa Tech Festival.

"We should not reinvent the wheel, if a country has a policy that can help, our countries need to work with that government and use that policy for our country," she explained.

She added that governments cannot discuss infrastructure development without addressing the challenge of affordable data.

"We need to build networks and collaborate with each other. We are here to collaborate and not compete," she continued.

Tanzania's Information, Communication, and Information Technology Minister Nape Nnauye said the key to unlocking Africa's potential lies in understanding that connectivity is a human right.

"Connectivity is a human right, it changes how a person accesses other rights. Investing in digital infrastructure is very important and a key to accessing all these other rights," he continued.

However, Nnauye believes that the high price of smart devices is a huge challenge which needs to be dealt with.

"If the population cannot afford to use the new infrastructure, with affordable smart devices, we can't address the issues we have," Nnauye added.

Creating smart cities

Botswana's Minister of Communications, Knowledge, and Technology Thulagano Segokgo said that without infrastructure, there will not be any smart technologies or smart deployment of those technologies.

He said the country's government had come up with a strategy aimed at building a smart Botswana.

"In that strategy, the pillars were infrastructure development and connecting 500 villages as well as providing free smart devices to school pupils," he explained.

Ministers from Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe agreed that collaboration is important to connect underserved communities.   (Source: Matshepo Sehloho).
Ministers from Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe agreed that collaboration is important to connect underserved communities.
(Source: Matshepo Sehloho).

"We first built an extensive fiber infrastructure around the country and in access now we have connected around 150 villages and we want to get to 500 by the end of next year," Segokgo said.

He added that the country recognizes the need for data centers as well as cloud facilities.

South Africa Communications and Digital Technologies Deputy Minister Philly Mapulane joined in the conversation and agreed that collaboration is imperative.

Furthermore, he said that South Africa has witnessed how connectivity has become the catalyst for innovation, economic growth and empowerment.

"The SA Connect, a national broadband project where, through Broadband Infraco and Sentech, we are providing core access network and last mile infrastructure to enable broadband connectivity for the community Wi-Fi hotspots that will connect approximately 5,6 million households across the country," he concluded.

Related posts:

*Top image is of from left to right: Tanzania Information, Communication, and Information Technology Minister Nape Nnauye, Botswana Communications, Knowledge, and Technology Minister Thulagano Segokgo, Zimbabwe Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Tatenda Mavetera and South Africa Communications and Digital Technologies, Deputy Minister Philly Mapulane. (Source: Matshepo Sehloho).

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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