HARARE, May 27, 2021—The Zimbabwe Digital Economy Diagnostic, a new report developed by the World Bank, finds that its digital financial services are the strongest foundation for the further development of the digital economy in the country.
Among Zimbabwe’s key strengths is the widely used digital payment system, through which 96 percent of all transactions in the country are transacted, and which Government uses extensively for its core business.
“We recognize the potential for digital technologies to help pave the way forward and are therefore focusing on development of the key digital pillars that will underpin the growth of our economy,” said Dr. Misheck Sibanda, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet.
The report maps out strengths and limitations that characterize the national digital economy ecosystem. It identifies the challenges and opportunities for future growth in Zimbabwe with respect to five pillars that together form the foundation for digital transformation. In addition to Digital Financial Services, these include Digital Infrastructure, Digital Government Platforms, Digital Entrepreneurship, and Digital Skills.
“As noted by the report, Zimbabwe is well positioned to reap significant dividends from a digital transformation. However, to achieve the desired results, strategic action is required to strengthen the policy and regulatory framework; resource management and coordination; governance and transparency; and capacity building. A strong digital foundation is the key to realization of government’s vision for smart government, agriculture, health, trade, commerce, education, transport, and cities, said Mukami Kariuki, World Bank Country Manager, Zimbabwe.
As the digital agenda cuts across various sectors, the report’s key recommendations underscore the need for collaboration and coordination across the government’s ministries, departments, and agencies. While implementing these recommendations requires capital investment - to expand and improve infrastructure and services, it also requires attention to binding policy, legislative, or regulatory constraints. The report notes that despite challenges arising from the ongoing pandemic and economic recession, Zimbabwe can forge a path toward digital transformation through careful sequencing and prioritization of essential reforms.