Zimbabwe is bracing for increased use of electronic commerce (e-commerce), which has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with Government working to ensure the digital environment is both efficient and secure.
This was revealed by the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services Jenfan Muswere at the Computer Society of Zimbabwe Summit (2020) in Nyanga recently.
Lockdowns during the height of the pandemic was accompanied by extensive closure of physical stores, which led some businesses to ramp up their online availability, while consumers also shifted to online shopping.
Muswere said e-commerce market growth in the country is in line with Government’s ease of doing business goals. “One of the most exciting possibilities in this era is achieving efficiency in e-commerce, which is inextricably attached to Government’s objectives under the ‘Ease of doing business’ initiative,” said the ICT Minister.
“It is the next level which has been accelerated by the pandemic, and all sectors of our economy have embraced, in an impressive fashion, conducting business online.”
Although the growth of digital business is ideal, it does come with some negatives, such as cyber-crime. Zimbabwe is already working on enhancing its ICT laws and regulations to meet growing need for online monitoring.
“Put together, legal reform in the wake of this fourth industrial revolution landscape is one of my Ministry’s top priorities as we set out to expand our reach into the global market through instilling confidence in all stakeholders.”
“The fourth industrial revolution brings with it many technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, robotics, virtual reality, the cloud, and 3D printing which present vast opportunities in the entirety of the economy. However, let me hasten to point out that, it is not going to be all smooth sailing, said Muswere.
“With the increased utilization of these technologies also come new complexities, particularly in ensuring data protection and privacy. What comes to mind, immediately, are the cyber-security implications. As we transact, innovate, communicate, disseminate, and explore the fundamental question is ‘Who is policing the fair use, safety, and intrusion of the cyber space?’
“This is perhaps one of the biggest puzzles of this time, which my Ministry is hard at work resolving, through our efforts directed towards the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill. The bill is our legislative response to setting the right legal framework upon which all Cyber Security superstructures are to be built.
“Our vision is to build a robust framework which is watertight and provides a safe and secure environment to allow enterprises and organisations whose business is now anchored on ICTs to operate efficiently in this peculiar 4th industrial revolution.”
With regards to online protection, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) recently launched guidelines to protect children from manipulation and abuse online.