The Adventures of An Imaginary Superhero Minister of ICT – (Part 2)

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This is part two of a three part series. You can find part 1 here.

Note: It was brought to my attention that in the first installment of this series the imaginary minister of ICT is a man, apparently. In the interest of gender equality, henceforth our imaginary minister becomes a woman.

The Minister Goes to University

In universities, the discussions become more fruitful and less disturbing. Here the minister of ICT discovers the most about what she needs to do and how, she realizes that a lot of questions have already been answered and a lot more asked. The university students dust-off and present their dissertations and hypothesis on the issues that they believe ICT can help resolve, she quietly sits and listens jotting down notes in her notebook. The minister is convinced that her ministry can utilize local universities for government research and development. Soon afterwards, the minister meets with her colleague at the Higher & Tertiary Education, Science & Technology Ministry. She expresses here interest to work closely with local Science & Technology Institutions by aligning their curriculum with the immediate needs in her ministry and the country, in return, she promises to help create employment for ICT graduates. Her colleague suspiciously agrees.

The Minister Becomes Efficient

In just a few months, by simply listening, the minister knows more about the problems troubling the local ICT and innovation landscape than any one person in government. By now “she” has set up highly effective teams within her ministry to comp through and organize all the latest trends and new information of interest to the ministry. Blog posts, emails, letters, requests, proposals and newspaper articles are all categorized and re-categorized before the minister takes a look at them, all of them. She is very particular about how she gets her information; she is now an obsessive fan of Eric Reese’s Lean Startup Model. “No vanity metrics” she warns her team, “give me the real numbers, I want the real metrics”.  Through these metrics one thing soon becomes clear to the minister. Her government is not leveraging new technology to quickly innovate and meet challenges in new ways. It is also doing little to nurture and utilize radically forward thinking innovators as it carries out its mandate.

She moves to bridge the gap, the minister of ICT sets up a Ministerial Internship Program, each year she personally selects a group of brilliant local university students and young professionals who work directly under her within the ministry. They are given an opportunity to advise the minister on important issues, they are also granted the resources they need to help implement and roll-out various strategies on behalf of the ministry. Other ministers soon follow suit.  The internship programs become widely successful and prestigious, a new capable generation of government and civil leaders is soon bred. Using her success as leverage, the minister wastes no time in approaching her colleague at the Youth, Indeginisation and Economic Empowerment Ministry. She has an audacious plan.

The Minister’s Two-Prong Proposal

The minister proposes a novel way to raise Foreign Direct Investment for the country by leveraging local intellectual property as a trade-able commodity. Here is how it works. The minister uses a two-prong approach. On one hand she continues to consolidate her collaboration with the Ministry of Education to churn out as many tech savvy, ICT biased students from high schools as possible, these she’ll use as raw material.  She relies on her newly formed relationships with the higher education ministry and tech hubs to absorb as many of these newly minted techies as possible.

Using newly acquired data and stats, our dear minister develops an ICT Public Access Database (i-PAD). The Road Map states clearly the pressing national problems government wishes to solve through ICT. Included in the document is The Ministry of Transport’s Transport Information Management System (mentioned in part 1). The i-PAD includes every government department’s ICT–related project on their wish list as well as its respective budget and deadline.  The total budget goes into the billions. The minister makes this information public to universities and tech hubs and instructs them to start identifying and assembling teams that are capable of solving these issues.  In return, she promises to ensure that a substantial portion of the Government’s ICT budget is diverted to the very best of these local solutions. It takes no time before the entire ICT scene in universities and tech hubs re-aligns itself to meet government’s ICT needs. For the first time the government witnesses with shock as young people rush to find solutions for government problems.

The Minister’s Second “Prong”

The minister has one last trick up her sleeve. She convinces her colleague from the empowerment ministry to come on board her crazy bandwagon. If she can help him to create jobs for youths, he must, in turn, help her to ensure that the nation’s empowerment laws align perfectly with her ICT Road Map.  The Minister of Indigenization is compelled. Together the ministers prepare to lobby for the most daring amendment to Zimbabwean legislation yet… To be concluded in the final part.

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  1. Sydney Mataro

    I am in the pre production stages of a television series that shows how Zimbabwe will be like in 25 years and more and I think you have given me inspiration on what to also show and tell. I love your articles. Amazing.

  2. Henri

    I find this “part” raises a very real issue, that the educational system in Zim seems to simply be a “now you know” cookie cutter system, where stagnant general information is relayed to the students. No real energy seems to be put (at least not to my knowledge) into dynamically updated information that is relevant to the Zim context, where students are equipped with the means to take our country to the next step in its development. This is especially true in terms of ICT. We need education that teaches people how to meet the challenges faced by the nation and advance it, not to teach them how to work menial jobs.