In June this year, thirty-year old
Limbikani Makani was nominated by the United States embassy in Harare
to participate in the State Department’s Innovation Summit and
Mentoring Partnership for Young African Leaders. The Washington
summit brought together 65 inspirational young leaders from 42
African countries, and Makani was able to share his experiences and
insights on how he has spent the last three years developing a
platform to transform the ICT landscape in Zimbabwe. At the time,
there was a dearth of information on ICT for the local context, and
having identified a niche, he launched the TechZim
website, which has arguably become one of
Zimbabwe’s leading technology websites for product reviews and
local IT news. With approximately 3,000 page views per day, TechZim
is proving popular, and Makani says, "We have set our sights on
building a culture of start-ups and innovation in Zimbabwe".
Whilst tech start-ups are now able to
access news and information readily, TechZim has had another
unprecedented impact by helping secondary school students who are
learning the ropes of using ICT as a tool for academic research.
Makani explains, "We decided to take on young people from secondary
schools and colleges to teach them how to use the Internet and social
media networks for their academic research". They host free
informal training seminars during the school holidays where a few
youths at a time learn about software, web designing and project
management. For novices, there are sessions on basic computer skills
– something so many privileged people take for granted these days.
"We don’t award certificates because we aren’t a college",
says Makani. "We are basically demystifying ICT and assisting
students who would otherwise not be able to afford computer classes
at all", he says.
Makani’s project has proved popular,
so much so that the Department of Media Studies at WITS University in
Johannesburg invited his input for a study into the revision of the
regulatory framework of a new national media policy for Zimbabwe. "If
tech start-ups are to succeed, the overall ICT climate has to be
conducive to doing business", he argues. "For eCommerce to become
a reality, we need to be investing in skills; in research and
development and working towards Universal Internet Access".
(Source: eLearning Africa)