The development and application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) since Independence in 1980 to date has seen unprecedented changes due to fast technological developments. This growth has been achieved through the realisation of the indispensable nature of ICTs by the Government of Zimbabwe, which initiated the development of the first National ICT Policy, finalised in 2005.
This second policy takes cognisance of the dynamism in the ICT sector, which renders it imperative that requisite policies are reviewed at certain intervals so that the country does not lag behind. The Government, through the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services (Ministry of ICTPCS) and with financial and technical support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) held consultative workshops to review the first ICT Policy July to mid-September 2012.
The policy examines the Ministerial Vision as it cascades from the National Vision. Due to their importance, the Ministerial Vision and Mission are included in this Policy so that they set a clear foundation upon which this policy is anchored.
The consultative process noted the tremendous telecommunications sector developments and also the impediments to further growth of the ICT sector. Inadequate ICT infrastructure and skills coupled with unsatisfactory institutional arrangements, among other issues, as being major impediments to ICT sector growth.
The overall objectives of the policy framework are:
Transformation - Facilitate delivery of Zim-ASSET and other National Developmental goals
Growth – Enable and foster access to and increased use of telecommunications/ICT in all spheres of life (such as e-Government, e-Commerce, e-Employment, ICT in education, ICT in health, ICT in science and ICT in agriculture),
Inclusiveness –Bridge the digital divide and provide broadband for all
Sustainability – Manage challenges resulting from the telecommunication/ICT development
Innovation and partnership – Lead, improve and adapt to the changing telecommunication/ICT environment
The following have been incorporated in this policy to achieve the above objectives:
- Institutional Framework
- Legal and Regulatory framework
- Universal access and service to ICTs
- National Broadband Plan
- Management of National Resources (i.e., Spectrum, Satellite Orbits, Numbering and Naming)
- Broad-based entrepreneurship and innovation (local content development)
- Empowerment and indigenisation for service providers and vendors
- Incentives to attract foreign investors
- ICT Sector competitiveness and viability
- Infrastructure sharing
- Human resource skills, capacity building and research
Key implementation programs on specific projects, which are critical in achieving the desired results, are provided.
The policy examines issues relating to capacity building and content development, research and development, gender and other marginalised groups. Financial and material resource issues are also brought to the fore with the realisation that these areas need to be addressed by Government together with the concerted efforts of other players. Participation by players from all sectors of the economy is encouraged in the implementation of this policy framework.
The status of the existing regulatory framework coupled with the institutional mechanisms is also herein reviewed. Various players are identified and their respective roles proffered and it is hoped that if these roles are executed conscientiously, Zimbabwe will achieve its enunciated vision of emerging as a united, strong, democratic, prosperous and egalitarian nation with a high quality of life for all by the year 2020.