Information and Communication Technology (ICT) minister Nelson Chamisa has blasted the World Bank’s 2011 Doing Business Report, which ranked Zimbabwe adversely in terms of global competitiveness, as an affront to the reforms the country has implemented consistently in the last 20 months.
The report, produced by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) every year to keep track of business reforms across the world, pushed the country one position down to 157 out of 183 economies.
Technically, this implies two things: either the local business environment is deteriorating or the country is lagging behind in reforms, both of which are adverse situations.
“We cannot be ranked so adversely considering the number of reforms this (inclusive) government has initiated since formation (in February last year),” Chamisa said during the official launch of a government ICT school in Harare on Friday.
Chamisa questioned the “criteria” and methodology used to rate countries, arguing Zimbabwe is one of Africa’s best reformers, lately.
But World Bank Zimbabwe country manager Nginya Lenneiye on Thursday said “the reforms have not been significant enough for the country to move up the ranks”.
In the report, which reviews business laws and regulations between May and June the following year, the World Bank and the IFC claimed Zimbabwe introduced one reform, dealing with construction permits, and but slipped in six out of the 9 benchmark indicators.
Although the country climbed three 3 places to number 172 in this category, the rank is still adverse.
Launching an ICT school for e-government training in Harare, Chamisa said Zimbabwe would continue reforming despite discouraging reports by global rating institutions.
He chronicled the reforms Zimbabwe has introduced in the ICT sector and reiterated the country’s vision is to launch a paperless government in the near term, a project which should commence once Cabinet approves the country’s e-government framework.
He said the country has the potential to catapult the country into Africa’s ICT hub if it sustains the current level of investment.
“We do not need to be consumers of ICT products but producers of ICT products. We have the one of the smartest brains in the world. If we are to recall our people (from the Diaspora), the world will shake,” Chamisa said.
“But we cannot be a hub of ICT if people are not adequately equipped.”
The ICT ministry established the ICT School this year to increase ICT awareness in government employees, cabinet ministers, councilors and ministry officials.
Its training modules include basic computer appreciation, International Computer Driving Lessons (ICDL) and internet browsing.
The school has enrolled its first 20 students who will finish the course next this week and targets producing at least 100 students by the end of the year.