Blessings Chidakwa, Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE has stepped up its efforts of digitalising the economy through pressing all sectors to be involved together and then roping in Chinese experts to pass on their successful solutions.
A team of local think tanks has been assembled from all sectors of the economy: Government ministries, agencies, the banking sector, the private sector, the District Development Fund, Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency, TelOne, NetOne, Potraz, State universities and local authorities administering Special Economic Zones.
After being brought together, they are now exchanging notes with Chinese experts during a three-day virtual training workshop which started yesterday.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe-China virtual training workshop for economic reform and transformation, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Mr Willard Manungo said the co-operation was in the context of the strong relations that exist between the two countries.
Mr Willard Manungo
“This training programme is one of our Government’s efforts to augment production capacity and attract foreign and domestic investments through creation of competitive development strategies under Special Economic Zones which are attractive to investors in line with President Mnangagwa’s mantra that “Zimbabwe is Open For Business.”
“The digital technology thrust in the programme will surely help Zimbabwe in its efforts to achieve Vision 2030 that will create a prosperous upper middle-income society as information communication technology is key and cross-cutting,” he said.
The objectives of the workshop were to appreciate the information and technology industry and the development of the digital economy in China.
In particular, the Zimbabweans want to learn from experiences of China’s poverty alleviation initiatives through digital tools, to discuss cultivation of digital talent that includes the introduction of the Africa Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme, and to study how the digital economy can drive smart transport and infrastructure transformation and to appreciate the bright prospect in China-Africa cooperation in digital economy policy, progress, direction and challenges.
Mr Manungo said the co-operation framework is one of the ways envisaged to catapult the country towards the attainment of Vision 2030 of empowered and upper middle-income society learning from the Chinese experience.
“May I underscore that this sixth online training programme will empower Zimbabwean participants to share views with the distinguished Chinese experts as well as create new ideas and strategies in amplifying Zimbabwe’s development agenda in the various sectors of the economy.
“It is our collective objective between the Zimbabwean and Chinese institutions that these training sessions will continue to offer Zimbabwe significant valuable experiences and lessons in the use of digital technology to reduce poverty and empower the citizenry,” he said.
International Co-operation Center of National Development and Reform Commission of China deputy director Chang Hao, said they had invited experts from the China Centre for Industry Development, China Internet Development Foundation, Düinsider, and China Institute of Contemporary International Relations to the training session.
“As a new economic form, the digital economy plays a crucial role in global economic development and restructuring. For Africa, grasping the opportunity of digital economy development provides the potential for economic transformation.
“The co-operation shall go beyond the Government level to engage enterprises, knowledge and social organisations in active participation in the digital projects through proactive project match-making between China and Africa, so as to enjoy the digital dividends,” he said.
Deputy director Chang said the global impact of Covid-19 pandemic has further emphasised the importance of the digital economy.
“A digital economy will facilitate Africa’s efforts in poverty alleviation and economic development shift and even can have significant implications for Africa’s participation in globalisation,” he said.
There was a need to optimise and enhance the digital infrastructure, and he said it was indispensable for developing a digital economy. Training would strengthen talent development and education co-operation.
“Compared to the traditional economic form, the digital economy requires more advanced technical expertise, which means higher requirements for specialists. Therefore, hi-tech talents will be the solid foundation for developing the digital economy in both China and Africa.
“The existing people-to-people exchange channels can be leveraged to send outstanding African young students and professionals to China for digital economy education programmes, or training programmes organised by research institutions, universities, companies and social organisations, to further improve the digital competence of African people,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China Ambassador Martin Chedondo saluted the Chinese for holding the training despite battling another wave of Covid-19 in Beijing.
Ambassador Chedondo said current experiences in China reveal that their digital economy was transforming lives even in the utmost parts of the nation.