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 Friday, September 28, 2012
In June this year, thirty-year old Limbikani Makani was nominated by the United States embassy in Harare to participate in the State Departmentís 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 Zimbabweís 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 Ė something so many privileged people take for granted these days. "We donít award certificates because we arenít 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.

Makaniís 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)