Govt sets up US$20 million Youth Innovation Fund for ICT sector

Govt sets up US$20 million Youth Innovation Fund for ICT sector
supa-mandiwanzira

ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira

Government has set up a Youth Innovation Fund in partnership with telecommunication companies. ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said the fund is expected to be capitalised at between US$20 and US$25 million within the next 24 months.

Officially opening the e-Tech Expo in Harare, Mandiwanzira said the fund was a collaborative effort between the ministry, the regulator Postal and Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) and industry players.

“After engagements with the telecoms industry, we agreed that one percent of the revenue which they generate will go into the fund for the development and promotion of new platforms by Zimbabweans,” he said.

The fund will support innovation from colleges and young people in terms of developing applications, software and programmes that can rival over the top services that have impacted Telecom company’s revenues.

According to the minister, telecom companies are concerned about the loss of revenue they are experiencing as a result of over the top services such as Skype, WhatsApp and Viber. He said submissions had been made to look at the possibilities of banning or stifling the services to ensure local players continue to be profitable.

“However, as a progressive Government which promotes innovation, we thought it would be better to empower our own young Zimbabweans to develop software programmes that counter those coming from “Silicon Valley”, he said.

The Minister believes there is also an opportunity to partner other institutions with venture capital funding and global players

The ICT Ministry is in the process of crafting the ICT Policy as well as the Cyber Security Bill.

At the same conference, Development and Cyber-security strategist, Cabe Zvavanjanja said Zimbabwe’s spend on information security at 23% was higher than what other global firms were spending because the country was still playing catch up after it went through a period where there were little investments in Information Technology and related risks. FinX

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