COVID-19 presents growth opportunities for Zimbabwe’s health, ICT sectors: president

A medical personnel is seen at Wilkins Hospital in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, on April 30, 2020. (Xinhua/Shaun Jusa)
Medical personnel is seen at Wilkins Hospital in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, on April 30, 2020. (Xinhua/Shaun Jusa)

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented growth opportunities for Zimbabwe’s health and Information, Communication Technology (ICT) sectors, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.

He said despite posing development challenges, the pandemic had ushered in opportunities for innovation and self-reliance, particularly in the health sector.

“Besides causing challenges to our development, COVID-19 has also provided opportunities for growth towards self-reliance, particularly in the health sector. As stated in my last address to you, our universities and tertiary institutions have led in this regard with most personal protective equipment (PPE) now being manufactured locally,” Mnangagwa said on Friday.

He was addressing a principal executive meeting of the political actors dialogue, a forum created by Mnangagwa that brings together leaders of political parties that contested in the 2018 national elections to discuss challenges facing the nation and chart the way forward.

Mnangagwa said the local industry had been forthcoming and supportive, leaving the country to only import high-level PPEs for use in highly infectious environments.

He said the restrictions imposed by the requirement for social distancing had also given rise to inventions in the technology sector.

This has seen the country’s Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services launching the Glue Virtual platform which has become Africa’s first virtual communications and collaboration platform.

The platform was jointly conceived and developed by Zimbabweans in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“The platform is expected to reduce the continent’s dependence on platforms developed elsewhere. Various locally-developed software are also at various levels of development and testing in government,” Mnangagwa said.

He said although there had been a worrisome spike in the number of locally transmitted infections, there has been a corresponding rise in the recovery rate now at 80 percent.

As of Thursday, Zimbabwe had recorded 6,678 COVID-19 cases including 5,263 recoveries and 206 deaths.

“The loss of 206 people to date is regrettable. Every effort is being made to ensure that all citizens are safe hence the need to continuously vary the lockdown measures,” Mnangagwa said.

He stressed that the country was still under lockdown and that enforcement measures will continue to be streamlined in line with the level of the COVID-19 threat.

“Government continues to urge citizens to strictly adhere to the set requirements to guarantee their safety,” he said.