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Mandela Washington Fellowship: With IT, Kumbirai Mkudu Sees Zimbabwe Economic Growth

Mandela Washington fellow Kumbirai Mkudu

Zimbabwe’s crumbling economy could be in much better shape if the country fully exploited information technologies (IT), says one expert.

Kumbirai Mkudu, one of the 60 young Zimbabweans taking part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship this year, says the symbiosis between modern technologies and economic growth can never be overemphasized.

Leading African economies like Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, he says, have invested heavily in IT infrastructure and internet connectivity, hence their superior status.

“In terms of Information Technology, Zimbabwe has yet to tap into that space; there are lots of opportunities that we stand to benefit from IT,” states Mkudu, a chartered accountant and IT specialist working for the auditing company, Ernst & Young, in Harare.

“There’s a lot of technology which has not yet been adopted in our country, and I think if you look at e-commerce for example, we are still a long way from really realizing the benefits that it brings.”

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While the amount of internet users in Zimbabwe has increased in recent years, trading and doing business online has failed to gain traction due to a myriad of factors, not least the absence of an online buying culture.

And Mkudu wants that to change. He says government should ramp up its IT infrastructure and create an enabling environment for online trading and easy connectivity.

Citing the world’s leading economy, the United States, Mkudu says Zimbabwe must lean heavily on information technology and get connect to world markets.

“We're yet to mature on that front. Take the U.S. for example you find that there is a lot more reliance on IT which makes the economy a whole lot more vibrant.

“So I strongly feel that as a country, we can realize significant growth once we tap into IT or make the most of it,” Mkudu, who holds an Honors Bachelor of Accounting Science Degree from the University of South Africa, adds.

He says he is honored to be among the 1,000 African youths picked from thousands of applicants for the widely-popular Mandela Washington Fellowship this year.

Mkudu will be attached with the Virginia Commonwealth University for the six-week program.