Telecoms players call on Fourth Industrial Revolution

By Staff reporter | 29 Mar 2020 at 19:14hrs
Never Ncube
PLAYERS in the telecommunications sector have appealed to the Government to prioritise and channel more resources towards embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) so as to accelerate the growth of the economy.

Dandemutande chief executive officer Mr Never Ncube said there was a need for the country to invest more on innovation and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) towards its potential growth trajectory.

"As a nation we can't ignore the 4IR. However, I believe we are still behind as we have only just started to embrace it. Our main reason for not meeting requirements is the clear lack of resources. Another reason is that the ICT sector has not always been prioritised. As a country we therefore need to increase resources input towards innovation and ICT. For us to be running full throttle 4IR, we also need to be running 5G (Fifth Generation) networks," he said.

The 4IR is characterised by the fusion of the digital, biological and physical worlds among the growing utilisation of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of Things and advanced wireless technologies. It also speaks to digital revolution through recognising that the challenges of today and tomorrow are disruptive in nature and only disruptive technological solutions can cope.

The embracing of the 4IR requires a ready and stable Internet connectivity and companies in the telecommunication sector have over the past been channelling most of their resources towards upgrading their Internet connectivity. This has seen companies such as TelOne,  Powertel, Econet and Dandemutande adopting the route of cable network to enhance connectivity.

"Internet connectivity is the backbone of any technological advancements therefore as a nation we have made strides in terms of investing in infrastructure through fibre, LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and 4G (Fourth Generation) platforms. I'm sure soon, advancements towards 5G adoption will progress. 5G is ideal due to its greater ability to handle massive volumes of data and process around 1 000 times more data than today's systems," said Mr Ncube.

He added that lack of exposure and the requisite ICT knowledge by the country's human resources was stifling the growth of industries.

"The ICT sector lacks adequate resources and yet all industries should be driven by innovation. Some of the major factors pulling us back are the lack of affordability and accessibility. To keep in line with global tech trends we should be moving towards 'smart everything'. Some of the hindrances we face as a sector are lack of exposure and knowledge. There is a need for human resources with world class digital skills. We also have a major challenge of over regulation for example in the case of crypto-currencies," said Mr Ncube.

The adoption of the 4IR is set to bring with it multi benefits to the different sectors of the country's economy ranging from retail to mining and is expected to address the issue of unemployment that continues to haunt the nation.

"First and foremost across all sectors, the issue of unemployment will be addressed. The 4IR is expected to create up to US$3,7 trillion in value to manufacturing firms across the globe. The 4IR will bring efficiency in operations and transform traditional ways of how we conduct work and do business," said Mr Ncube.

He further added that with most Africa countries' economies including Zimbabwe being driven by agriculture there was a need to further improve the sector's productiveness through adopting latest technologies.

"Agriculture is what drives the African economy and its growth and expansion has largely been proliferated by technological advancements. As a nation we can benefit from smart farming practices and the ways in which farmers can make data-driven decisions regarding crop rotation, planting and harvesting times, as well as soil management and weather prediction," said Mr Ncube.

Powertel communications marketing manager Mr Prosper Mutswiri said it was important to note that technology was enhancing efficiencies  at workplaces and fast replacing human jobs.

"Technology is now replacing usual jobs done by men where solutions are created that act like human beings in doing works and aid efficiency and compete at global level. Government must take ownership of the backbone infrastructure and promote plain level competition on existing and new players," he said.

Mr Mutswiri however, noted the need to come up with innovation hubs across the country so as to improve research and development in the ICT sector.

"Promotion of national innovation that drives automation of services and innovation hubs must be adopted. One of the current gaps in our ICT infrastructure deployment is robust research and development. This helps in having a guided and relevant infrastructure deployment that will address social requirements of each society as relevant in the 4IR," he said.



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