Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter
THE country requires robust state-of-the-art infrastructure for ICTs to be competitive in line with the global trends, Information Communication Technology and Courier Services Minister Kazembe Kazembe has said. In an interview with The Herald last week, Minister Kazembe said there was need for infrastructure development in the ICT sector.
“In order for us to catch up, we have to make sure that we do have the infrastructure in place,” he said.
“To deploy that infrastructure, we need foreign currency. As long as we have these sanctions (imposed by the United States and European Union) in place, there is no way we can earn the required foreign currency.
“If Government does not have access to foreign currency, it cannot finance these projects because most of the equipment we deploy is imported. We import from companies like Huawei and ZTE, so we need foreign currency.”
Minister Kazembe said deployment of ICT infrastructure was capital intensive, which required the removal of sanctions to enable local players to approach international financial institutions for funding.
“ICT infrastructure is resource hungry; it’s quite expensive and capital intensive and for our companies to be able to deploy ICT infrastructure.
“They need assistance from international financiers and sanctions have blocked credit lines, which means our companies cannot borrow any money,” he said.
“This means we always remain behind in terms of technology. We cannot embrace new infrastructure such as base stations for mobile connectivity or other ICT equipment. For us to be able to use the latest ICT applications, the latest smart solutions, we first have to have infrastructure in place. We have to ensure there is connectivity for everybody, and for us to have better connectivity, we have to deploy better infrastructure, which basically means we need foreign currency.”
Minister Kazembe said sanctions had other effects. Production levels in the manufacuring sector were at their lowest as industries cannot retool.
“Since the industry requires retooling, we cannot produce, we cannot export and we cannot earn foreign currency,” said Minister Kazembe.
He called on stakeholders to come up with robust solutions to counter the effects of sanctions. Minister Kazembe said it was important to start looking at the country’s capabilities and human capital to try and develop own applications, and try to manufacture ICT equipment, cellphones and computers.
He said in the short term, Zimbabwe needed financial assistance to boost its ICT sector.