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Chimanikire urges young entrepreneurs to embrace opportunities from digitalization

Mr Roy Chimanikire

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Deputy CEO Mr Roy Chimanikire has called on young people to take advantage of the vast opportunities brought about by the new industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) to create new jobs and to empower themselves.

Speaking at the 2022 Job Summit held in Harare on Thursday (today) under the theme “Connecting Youth Minds, Creating the future Post Covid-19”, Mr Chimanikire said Industry 4.0 presented endless opportunities for the youth, noting that some of the opportunities come from the digitalization of value chains, the digitalization of products and services, as well as the digital transformation of business models.

“The opportunities presented by digitalization of value chains through IOT platforms, mobile integration, cloud computing, the digitalisation of products and services, big data analytics, multilevel customer profiling and the use of smart sensors, will result in the accelerated creation of completely new business models,” said Mr Chimanikire.

The 2022 Job Summit, hosted by Econometer consulting group, and sponsored by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation Science and Technology Development, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, CBZ, CIMAS, Dandemutande and Lighthouse, was the second such summit following the inaugural summit held at the capital in 2019.

The Summit seeks, among other things, to create a platform to facilitate pertinent conversations and find innovative ways to stimulate employment creation in Zimbabwe.

Mr Chimanikire said despite the current economic challenges facing the country and the continent in general, Africa has a bright future because of its youth demographic dividend.

“Africa is the youngest continent with 60% of the African population below the age of 25. By 2030, young Africans are expected to make up 42% of the global youth population and the youth are increasingly taking an active role in shaping their future by embracing digital technologies,” he said.

He projected that Africa’s youth population will continue to grow, more than doubling from current levels by 2055. He reiterated that Industry 4.0 – which envisages rapid change due to increasing interconnectivity and smart automation – had the potential to bridge the north-south economic divide and accelerate Zimbabwe and African countries’ economic growth, with digitalisation as the chief catalyst.

“The digitalization and ubiquitous connectivity that IoT and other digital enablers usher in through Industry 4.0 will result in higher productivity and the creation of entirely new products and jobs, that currently do not exist.

“New markets will also be created, resulting in improved livelihoods as communication (from technology enablers such as 5G) becomes a lot faster and more convenient, healthcare more efficient and thus more affordable, and vast opportunities for learning through multiple digital platforms become available,” he said. Industry 4.0 will, in a way, democratise access to knowledge and learning, he said, effectively lowering barriers to knowledge and to entrepreneurship.

Bringing it closer home, Mr Chimanikire said companies such as Econet were already aligning their brands to current digital trends to provide convenience to both their consumer and corporate customers.

“Our Digital Lifestyle network positions Econet as a digital service provider by harnessing digital enablers to deliver products and services to our consumer customers, and B-2-B solutions to corporates and enterprises in a way that delivers convenience, saves costs, boosts productivity and simplifies the user experience,” he said.

Citing several African and Zimbabwean start-up success stories such as EcoCash, PayNow, Fresh-in-a- Box, Flutter Wave, M-Kopa, Wasoko and many others, Mr Chimanikire said Industry 4.0 was already creating digital opportunities for entrepreneurs in FinTech, AgriTech, E-commerce and HealthTech.

He added that opportunities also bound in the manufacturing, Government and the NGO arenas for young Zimbabweans and African entrepreneurs if they can dare to think differently.

The Summit, which was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Hon Raymore Machingura, among other leaders, drew about 200 young entrepreneurs, students, professionals and young business leaders in a packed conference room at a hotel in Harare.

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