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The main focus of this research report is ICT4D issues and their role in tackling social and economic problems in Zimbabwe. It includes an assessment and analysis of the institutional, legislative and regulatory landscape in Zimbabwe in terms of how they support ICT4D.
This deliberate focus resulted from the observation that other ICT sectors were not performing maximally due to the political and socio-economic problems in the country. In addition, the policy and regulatory process had attracted government, the National Economic Constitution Forum (NECF) and donor funding in recent years, leading to some concerted activities. For example, the Ministry of Science and Technology, with funding from the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), spearheaded the work on the ICT Bill. The draft document on estrategies and implementation framework was developed concurrently with the ICT Policy Framework, with funding from UNDP. The ICT Policy Framework was officially launched in 2005 while work on the e-strategies and implementation was shelved until the institutional, legal and legislative processes recommended by the ICT Policy were established.
The role of ICTs in development has been recognised by the Zimbabwean government through such landmark measures as the e-Readiness Survey (2004), and the National ICT Policy Framework (2005), which recommended the institution of a National Information and Communication Technology Authority and a Converged Regulator. This has led to the current participatory work on the draft ICT Bill which sets out the key legislation and regulation framework regarding the access and use of ICTs in Zimbabwe.
These measures provide for an enabling ICT environment for business, public administration and services delivery, education and communications. In the Government of National Unity, a new Ministry for ICTs was established; this should ensure that ICTs receive budget allocations and the attention they deserve, with expectations of reforms, growth and development in the sector.
Moreover, the new inclusive government has prioritised the revamp of the national constitution, and this presents an an opportunity to ensure that ICT4D foundations are included in this principal tool of governance and democracy.
The report was compiled by Margaret Munguze of the E-Knowledge for Women in Southern Africa (EKOWISA).