10 things slowing down the growth of technology in Zimbabwe

10 things slowing down the growth of technology in Zimbabwe

You may very much agree with this article that the speed at which technology is growing in Zimbabwe is very slow compared to other African countries such as  Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and our neighbour South Africa. As a result, the conclusion that there are things in place or not in place here in Zimbabwe that are slowing down technological developments cannot be contested. Ignoring these slowing factors will not bring us any change now and in the future hence the need to approach these factors head on. But now, the starting point is knowing and exposing them. Here are the ten things slowing down technology in Zimbabwe.

High Data costs

Our country is one of those countries with high data costs in Africa. Observations shows that those countries that are doing better in terms of technological developments have lower data costs. This is because some technological developments are backed by systems that demand data. Now, when the cost of data is high, very few can afford it hence those that invest in technological startups demanding data will be very few. Data is also wanted in research which is one of the fundamental aspects of technological developments. The government through POTRAZ should thrive to keep data costs at minimum. I have known some online startups, that appeared and disappeared before accomplishing anything. The idea was great and the reception was great. The cause of quick shutdown in most cases is operational costs dominated by data costs. Let me ask you a question or two. Are you at easy to watch any video, play any audio or visit any website you want anywhere any time? If the answer is no; Is it data costs that limit you? Yes?, then high data costs is quiet a stumbling block to technological development.

Government Policies

When it comes to technology, I really feel government policies in Zimbabwe are somehow biased. The government is quick to come up with policies that control and perhaps hinder technology but slower to come up with those policies that promote technological development. It is high time that the government of Zimbabwe implement policies that are technology friendly. What policies are those? I am talking about policies that encourage people to invest in technology. The government must put in place policies that encourage foreign firms to do technological investments in Zimbabwe. Absence of these policies mean that the government does not support technological development and this is my next point.

Lack of Government Support

Taking the Example of Agriculture. I know for a fact that there are favourable domestic and foreign policies that support agriculture here in Zimbabwe. Lets talk about the command farming, it is there to support agriculture and it has been quiet a success. There are other subsidies as well that encourage people to do farming. This is a well done!

My question is; What policies are there to support technological development? What subsidies are there to encourage locals to invest in technology? The government support agriculture because they value it, so perhaps they do not support the growth of technology because they do not value it. The government of Zimbabwe is perhaps not realising that technological development has high potential of stimulating wealth creation and getting thousands employed in this nation. They think of the negative side of technology and not the positive side and yet the genuine truth is that all negative things that technology may bring are so minor to the positive things it brings.

Political Instability

Political instability is the biggest enermy of foreign investment. Nomatter how good the government policies are, political instability can mess it all. Policies can lure, but it is stability that brings trust and assurance. Zimbabwe has been known for having political unrest for long now and this is hindering growth in many sectors, the technology sector is not spared either.

Lack of Capital

Just like with any other business, investing in technology requires capital and technology may demand more depending on its nature. In the case of human capital I believe we have adequately skilled people in Zimbabwe who can do well in technology. But the major problem in terms of capital can be lack of the required technologies. In africa in general, we depend so much on imported technologies to support our IT systems. Now the major problem Zimbabwe is facing is that, it is so expensive to import. Importing equipment and capital resources mean that one will have to pay at least 4 to 10 times the normal price. At the moment, we also have financial problems that are making it even more difficult to import capital resources. This makes it difficult for young innovative entrepreneurs to venture into technology businesses.

Poor Distribution of Resources

This point is very undebatable to those who understand how the government allocate their resources year to year. The 17 million is for research and development, science and technology business incubation, and modernisation of infrastructure, but it not enough particularly given the stated prorities and the list of things that it covers. South Africa is far ahead of Zimbabwe technologically, but in 2018, it allocated at least 144 million in United State Dollars toward the same and priorities according to ITWEAFRICA were mainly small and media technology businesses. So if those ahead of us invest more those behind must invest much more.

In 2018 alone, expenditure on agriculture went above 1 billion, but was initially bedgeted at 401 million, all in United States Dollars. In ICT growth and development, it becomes a different story altogether. All this may just mean that the value of technology in our country and in our economy is not understood and this brings me to the next point.

Failure to value technology

The value of Technology is not understood in Zimbabwe, drawing this conclusion from a few statics presented on the previous point. Allocation of resources can very much tell what is valued and what is not valued. Personally, I think the government sees technology as a threat to their interests somehow, maybe politically. They are afraid of it, they do not trust it. That is why, millions can be channeled towards thwarting and controlling technology under the name of Cyber Security and yet very little towards growth and development. Let me repeat this again, supported, technology has the capacity to trigger wealth creation to our nation and employ many, directly or indirectly.

Brain Drain

Many good brains have left the country, doctors, engineers,artists and technocrats as well. By the way, I am not saying those that stayed are dull or something, you are still good, but don't you think we could achieve more if there was no brain drain? Certainly we could. So undebatably, brain drain is also slowing down technological developments. The reason why our neighbour South Africa is doing well technologically is that brilliant brains are pouring in daily and many of them from Zimbabwe.

Local colleges and universities not going practical

I was there before, so believe me. Local Universities are not doing enough in teaching the practical skills of technology. I really feel that one cannot teach someone cooking without cooking or driving without driving. Surprisingly, our local colleges, especially universities are doing exactly this. When I was at colleges, I could not understand some of the concepts well, not because I was dull, nor because I was not serious. The problem was that everything was theoretical, including very practical things like programming and designing in some cases. Practical courses and modules must be taught using practical methods in colleges and universities.

One of the problems that lead to this is lack of resources such as equipment, software  or the required systems. These institutions must invest in all equipment necessary for effective teaching so that they won't produce half backed students for our local industries.

High Equipment Cost

I previously explained about this point. High equipment costs really slows down. Equipment cost are high even locally. The government controlls pricing of agriculture commodities to encourage farmers, they also control the pricing of fuel so that industries keep running. But they do not control the pricing of ICT equipment resulting in very slow technological developments. If you try to find out how much it costs to buy a basic laptop, to buy a printer, to host a website and ect, surely you will be overwhelmed.

 


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