Stanbic calls for improved collaboration between ICT players to support local ICT innovators and turn Zambia into regional tech hub.
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) in collaboration with Stanbic Bank Zambia and Airtel Networks Zambia have launched the 2020 cohort of the ICT Innovation Programme.
The initiative was started in 2016 by ZICTA as a way of equipping local tech innovators and start-ups with tools to bring their ideas to life and contribute to the country’s digital agenda.
This year’s event attracted about 242 applications from which 60 were selected by an independent panel of experts to progress to the next round. Entries were assessed based on their business potential, technical feasibility, and scalability of the idea.
The programme is open to Zambian ICT innovators and/or entrepreneurs aged between 18–35 years old with inventive, viable and scalable business ideas that attempt to solve current challenges relating to various sectors of the economy including finance, education, agriculture, energy, climate, and health among others.
So far, four cohorts have been initiated with more than 100 emerging innovators benefiting.
Speaking during the virtual launch which attracted over 200 attendees recently, Stanbic Bank Zambia Head Public Relations and Communications Chanda Chime-Katongo said that a flourishing digital industry would bring Zambia a step closer to achieving its economic diversification dream through the creation of export worthy ICT products and services thereby accelerating GDP growth.
She said: “Zambia has considerable potential of becoming one of the region’s main players in technology development. Digital platforms are increasingly becoming more accessible to more people each day thus creating a ready market for cutting edge innovations.
“To top it off, we have the advantage of political stability and innumerable talented youths that are eager to get a slice of the proverbial economic pie.
“All that is remaining is a deliberate support system from stakeholders that could serve as a launch pad for homegrown tech entrepreneurs.”
Mrs Katongo noted that for the local ICT sector to truly take off and reach its full potential, key industry players had to create strategic partnerships that supported innovation.
“There is need for increased collaboration between stakeholders to unlock Zambia’s potential and turn the country into a regional tech hub.”
“At Stanbic, we are convinced that nurturing strategic partnerships between corporate entities, Government agencies and other sector players including tech start-ups can hasten Zambia’s journey towards a digital economy.
Our sponsorship of this initiative is a clear demonstration of our intention to not only provide practical support to local entrepreneurs but also grow the tech industry.”
The 60 innovators will receive access to potential business linkages for their ideas as well as technical and business development support from sector experts over the next six months – after which the best three will receive financial support of up to ZMW50,000 towards the implementation of their innovation.
And speaking during the same launch, ZICTA Director General, Engineer Patrick Mutimushi said the innovation programme was in line with the authority’s mandate as prescribed under Section 6 of the ICT Act of 2009 – to promote research, development and the use of new and appropriate technologies in the sector.
He noted that the initiative was a clear illustration of how ZICTA was actualising Government through the Ministry of Transport and Communication’s efforts to create an enabling environment for transitioning ideas into viable business ventures.
“As the world continues to make strides aimed at addressing a serious global pandemic (COVID 19) that has led to extensive disruptions in our societies, I am delighted that we are able to continue identifying promising innovations that can be nurtured into commercially viable solutions and respond to some of our socio- economic needs as a country,” Eng Mutimushi said.
He added that: “The focus areas for this year’s programme were identified through our engagements with various stakeholders on the areas that required ICT related innovations. We are hopeful that this approach will enhance the prospects for potential off-takers and financing as well as provide responsive innovations to the needs of our country.”
Eng Mutimushi urged the final 60 innovators to make the most of the opportunity and perfect their ideas and innovations to make a difference in the country.
“I encourage you all to take advantage of this opportunity and perfect your ideas and innovations so that they make a difference in our country. You are called to use your intellect, creativity, passion, and determination to drive this country forward.”
The 2020 Innovation Programme shall run for a maximum duration of six months from August 2020 to February 2021.