Zimbabwe and China yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the advancement of ICTs between the two countries, in yet another sign of the growing interest of cooperation between the two countries.
Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Kazembe Kazembe on behalf of Zimbabwe while the Chinese vice president of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Mr Chen Zhaoxiong represented Beijing.
The signing ceremony took place on the sidelines of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecom World 2019 that is underway in Budapest, Hungary.
The MoU is aimed at creating an enabling environment to enable the sector players to collaborate, and will go a long way in reducing the digital divide and contribute to various economic activities.
Some of the areas of cooperation in MoU include the development of fibre optic backbone network, mobile broadband network and Internet connectivity of Zimbabwe; the development of international and cross-border land cables as well as international submarine cables; development and operation of international voice and data services in Zimbabwe; and research and development of ICT and establishment of manufacturing and assembling factories in Zimbabwe to develop and assemble ICT products.
Other areas include big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data centre technology, software application and product development using cutting-edge technology; and speeding up the promotion of mobile and Internet-based applications in areas of industrial convergence application including smart cities, smart agriculture, smart health, smart education and smart planning; and cooperation in the utilisation and management of satellite radio spectrum.
Mr Chen said the signing of the MoU was a sign of a “strong relationship between the parties”.
“I would like to applaud our Zimbabwean counterparts for their commitment in making this a success.
“This is the third time that I have met Minister Kazembe. We need to ensure that we operationalise the contents of this agreement so that the benefits are realised,” he said.
Mr Chen also said he understood the MOU to be a guideline that needs to be implemented through private sector companies.
Minister Kazembe said; “On behalf of my principal His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe (Cde Mnangagwa), I would like to thank you for the support.
“As alluded by my colleague (Mr Chen), I concur that the private sector plays a significant role in the development of ICTs hence there is need for collaboration so as to implement the areas of collaboration.”
Minister Kazembe also said Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE have played a critical role in transforming Zimbabwe’s ICT sector.
ZTE has been working with local mobile network operators to expand and upgrade their networks.
Said Minister Kazembe: “The Chinese firms operating in the ICT sector in Zimbabwe have assisted in transforming our sector as we strive to bridge the digital gap.
“These companies have reinforced the good relationship that Zimbabwe has enjoyed with China.”
Minister Kazembe is leading a Zimbabwean delegation to the ITU Telecom World 2019, which includes Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT Dr Sam Kundishora and Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) Director General Dr Gift Machengete.