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  • Building the Zimbabwean Digital Innovation Ecosystem: Report on the ITU/POTRAZ Co-creation Workshop

    Building the Zimbabwean Digital Innovation Ecosystem: Report on the ITU/POTRAZ Co-creation Workshop
    Author
  • Leonard Mutambanengwe
  • Staff Writer
  • Posted Jun 13, 2023
  • The International Telecommunications Union held a workshop in conjunction with POTRAZ to map Zimbabwe’s digital ecosystem and develop potential solutions for improving the innovation landscape in the country. Bringing together diverse voices from the technology and innovation domain in Zimbabwe, the 3 day workshop included discussions, exercises and presentations on how to make the best of the potential Zimbabwe has to offer. 

    Zimbabwe’s digital innovation ecosystem has been hampered by various factors leading to poor outcomes despite the efforts made in the spaces by various actors. The government has recognised the importance of going digital in various strategy and policy conversations, academia has been setting up innovation hubs, even private players have largely contributed to the efforts, but the general consensus is Zimbabwe is still behind on the frontier. The workshop was meant to put the issues affecting the landscape to light, brainstorm recommendations on how to overcome them and identify the key stakeholders that might be critical in producing the desired outcomes. 

    In Ecosystem Assessment, the 7 key pillars/enablers required to unlock the critical resources to allow digital transformation were explored. Key ingredients to each pillar were identified, including policies on education, finance and ICT, availability of infrastructure, funding and investment, markets, communities and support. The current state of performance, current implemented practices and gaps were also identified. The participants were allowed to “dream” about the future state of innovation they would like to see in Zimbabwe.

    The Ecosystem Maturity map gave participants the opportunity to map out the roles and actions of the stakeholders in the stages of start-up life cycles. Colour coded to represent adequate activities (green), some evidence of actions being available (yellow) and low and inadequate evidence (red), the map would show how the ecosystem is performing currently. The consensus was that for most of the stakeholder activities and roles, we are nowhere near close to being mature when it comes to start-up innovation. 

    The last activity of the workshop involved working in teams to identify enablers, key actions, policies, platforms and programmes that were imperative in solving the identified gaps in the ecosystem in areas of priority intervention, including governance, research, knowledge sharing, innovation dynamics and capacity. 

    The Zimbabwean innovation ecosystem relies on all the necessary pillars coming together and complementing each other, and the workshop was a great journey in putting together the first steps in achieving that. With the involvement of key members of the ecosystem, from government (represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT and POTRAZ) to academia, innovation communities and private corporations, the workshop can be used to build a vision for innovation that can aid the development of the country and its people. 

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