Innovators challenged to develop simple ICT solutions

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Win Mlambo

SOLUTION providers in the information communication technology (ICT) sector have been challenged to come up with simple innovations understandable to users in developing countries.

FROM JOHN NYASHANU IN HIROSHIMA, JAPAN

The call was made by ICT, Postal and Courier Services deputy minister Win Mlambo in his address at the 2015 ICT Indicators Symposium in Japan on Monday, where experts from the sector worldwide are meeting to discuss international policy and measurement topics.

“It defeats the whole purpose to come up with solutions inappropriate to users in developing countries. Once solutions are complicated, targeted results won’t be achieved,” he said.

“Innovations have to be tailor-made for users in regions like rural areas. For example, why not come up with a charging system for mobile phones which uses wind energy? This will assist the majority of our people in those areas who cannot afford current devices, more so, as some countries like Zimbabwe face challenges of electricity.”

Mlambo said ICTs can play an important role in the successful implementation of Sustainable Development Goals and transform livelihoods of ordinary people across the world.

dr-win-mlambo-deputy-ICT-minister

“For example, if we provide medical information on cellphones and hand it over to clinics where medical doctors are not available, what is the impact on the mortality rate in that community? If we connect a school to the Internet, what result does it bring to the pass rate and ultimate development of those students? Benefits are bountiful,” he said.

In Zimbabwe, the country’s first mobile telecommunications company, NetOne, is currently rolling out the Long-Term Evolution, which is set to make such facilities a reality.

However, as most countries here were expressing determination to embrace ICTs for the benefit of all their citizens, others like Madagascar look content with piecemeal solutions.

In an interview, the country’s director for the ICT regulatory body, Jean Rakotomalala said rural communities were not in their immediate plans.

“We are only concentrating on schools and universities in our ICT programmes in Madagascar. In most rural areas of our country, network is not even available. Now considering our poverty levels, this ambition can only remain a pipe dream,” he said.

The symposium, which has drawn more than 500 delegates, including two deputy prime ministers and 15 ministers from throughout the world, ends today.