The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) should use part of the licence renewal fees paid by mobile operators to finance innovative ICT projects, the Zimbabwe Information and Communication Technologies (ZICT) has said.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The renewal licence fee is $137,5 million and valid for 20 years. Only Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has managed to pay the full fees.
At a press briefing on Friday, ZICT chairman Jacob Mutisi said as each mobile subscriber paid fees for voice calls and data, there was need for government to re-invest that money in innovative tech start-ups.
“What happens if a mobile operator wants to renew their registration over a five-year period at $137,5 million? What does government do with that money? Hence, there is a need to say to Potraz ‘you have got our money, now we need you to fund certain projects in Zimbabwe’.
“Especially ones from the youngsters who are coming up with solutions to our current problems,” Mutisi said.
“I think it is now time that Potraz brought in youngsters that come up with brilliant ideas.
“What has the government done to uplift youngsters to develop their own [versions of] Facebook and WhatsApp?”
As an ICT-driven committee, ZICT aims to get government and ICT players to fund innovative projects.
“So, we came up with a way of driving that message to the government and other institutions that ICT should be the backbone of this economy. Imagine how much we would save by just having cellphone chargers being produced in Zimbabwe,” Mutisi said.
ICT has over the years grown into a significant economic contributor as the country digitalises most of its systems.
ZICT was officially launched last week as a division of the Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers (ZIE).
ZIE CEO Sanzan Diarra said they had also engaged the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe Limited, (IDCZ) which are their main partner, to sponsor projects.
“We have about 15 projects that we have evaluated and identified as a potential for being grown further,” he said.
“Once we are advised by the IDCZ of the project to be taken forward, calls will be made to sponsors with their backing.”
Diarra said they wanted to grow ICT in all the different sectors of the economy and would engage relevant ministries.
Last September, government was in the final stages of setting up the structures for the multi-million ICT innovation fund which finalised at the end of September 2016.
It is set to be funded to the tune of $25 million which would be raised through the contributions of 1,5% of mobile operator revenues.
In 2015, the ministry of ICT found that a growth of 10% in the industry would increase the GDP by 1,5%; about $209,85 million.
Part of the efforts from ZICT to promote ICT growth includes the Research Intellectual Output Science Engineering and Technology programme with the ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology.