Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) says the National Development Strategy1 (NDS1) performed fairly well on the key priority area five which focuses on the promotion of a digital economy.

In its research project titled National Development Strategy 1: Abridged Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism (CISOMM) Report, the organisation said the sector performed well despite the hurdles encounter in collecting state data and interoperability.

The Priority Area on Digital Economy performed fairly well although there is limited access to state data and interoperability.”

As per the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) dimensions, the NDS1 is on the right track with respect to digital economy,” said ZIMCODD in their report.

At the launch of NDS1, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology proclaimed a ZWL8 billion to support digital infrastructure development and digital skills capacity improvement.

Government promised to support the digitalisation of the economy through increasing mobile and data penetration, widening broadband area coverage, integration of digital technology and ICT literacy through investments in the digitalisation sector.

NDS 1 aimed at increasing internet access through improving mobile phone penetration, widening broadband area coverage and increasing information communications and internet access centres.

Data released by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority Services shows that mobile phones and data penetration was on the upsurge during all the quarters of 2021 and increased from 2020 statistics.



Government also increased information communications and internet access centres beyond Harare. In January this year, government set up new three ICT access facilities in Bullawayo at Elangeni Public Service Training Centre, Bulawayo Data Backup Centre, Public Finance Management System Centre as well as an ICT lab per school for Waterford and Emakhandeni.

IN 2021, A total of 5 new 2G, 12 new 3G and 37 LTE eNode Bs were deployed bringing the total number of base stations to 9,099 from 9,045 recorded in the second quarter of 2021, anchoring internet access throught the country.

The graph below shows total mobile base stations growth in 2021


Government also set up a data back-up system at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo which is expected to secure and store public finance management records.

Through the introduction of ICT in primary and secondary schools in 2021, there was an improvement in ICT literacy thus improving the digital literacy skills.

ICT based public services improved. Government was more active on engaging with the public through online services as government departments and state enterprises have websites and service interactive platforms that gives online attendance to the general populace. According to ZIMCODD, 2021 saw a positive improvement of government to citizen communication and government to business communication through the use of the internet which it dubbed, “A clear indication towards effective and mature e-government.”

Some notable achievements were also scored on the intergration of digital technology through investments in ICTs. The government through TelOne rolled out broadbabd and convergence program in 2021 across the country. Latest stats from POTRAZ shows that the international internet connectivity also increased.


Furthermore, government made further strides on improving interoperability among network providers which made it possible to buy for example, Netone airtime using Ecocash.

The ICT sector has transformed and evolved due to the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in increased demand and acquisition of ICT services by consumers.Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, digitalisation is now more important than ever as the pandemic continues to transform how people live, work and interact with one another. NDS 1 targets a digital economy by 2025.


However, regarding the improvement in ICT literacy across the country, rural settings largely lag due to challenges in respect to poor ICT infrastructure. Most rural schools have no access to electricity, let alone computers which widens the ICT literacy gap between the rural and urban based people. According to latest data from POTRAZ, network coverage remains lower in rural areas, especially much lower in rural areas especially for LTE (4G) and more is still needed to be done to provide broadband to rural and other underserved areas.

The graph below shows Mobile Network Population Coverage stats by POTRAZ

Also, the government has scored zero with regards to finishing up the television digitalisation programs and also silent regarding the National Geospatial and Space Agency. In 2021, government revealed that the first Zimbabwean satellite, the ZIMSAT-1, will be launched in 2022.

Congratulations and well done for this first national space project which lays the foundation for space and scientific programmes. This is indeed a major step in enhancing the deployment of earth observation technologies in supporting the National Development Strategy,” the President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, said at the launch of the Zimbabwe Science Park and commissioning of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZNGSA) on 13th September 2021. 

Interoperability is still at the early stages as 2021 capped with the sending of money from One wallet to Ecocash or Telecash still unfounded.

Zimbabwean data prices remain high in the region and this is retarding a faster growth to digital economy as prices are beyond the reach of the general public.

To further grow the sector, government should step up to subsidise data prices while digital infrastructure developments speed up in both rural and urban areas.

Another mechanism that can be employed by government is to enable duty free on the importation of ICT gadgets to encourage wide usage. Currently, imported cellular telephone handsets attract a 25% tax and a further proposed US$50 levy on cell phones.

ZIMCODD also recommended the government to prioritise the training of ICT personnel for onward cascading of the skills to all and sundry.