We want cheap data, not robots: Zimbabweans


Zimbabwe Minister of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Postal and Courier Services, Tatenda Mavetera

from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Bureau
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE’S minister of information and communication technologies (ICT), Postal and Courier Services, Tatenda Mavetera received bashing on social media for urging the country to embrace robots that replace humans in restaurants.

The suggestion was described as ‘shortsighted’ arguing the move would worsen the rate of joblessness where unemployment is believed to be highest in the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc.

“When we talk about the inclusion of technology in our everyday lives it should apply even to some simple tasks. In this video (supplied) we see a robot delivering food to a table where patrons are waiting for their meal. Zimbabwe can and should incorporate such technology in its ordinary and day to day settings,” Mavetera said.

However, the ICT minister’s statement stirred a hornet’s nest as the country’s estimated 85% of unemployed university graduates and college frowned at her uncalculated “utterances”.

One Isaya Kamanga reacted: “When we ask you (minister) questions about what you are doing to ensure we have such technology, especially the one to do with IT (information technology), you do not respond. That’s the problem with Zimbabwe ministers. You want us to read about what you post (on social media), but you cannot answer our questions. You were elected by us (so that you become) accountable to us. Engage with us. We have been asking you what you are doing to reduce data cost, internet speed and coverage, (but there was) no answer. You don’t respond. What new technology is Zimbabwe investing in to improve internet connectivity and reduce cost? Why are Zimbabwe’s internet providers so expensive? we need answers Hon minister.”

One Shuvai Javangwe reacted: “You don’t have a stable Internet connection in your office. You want to implement a solution that requires blocks of infrastructure. How about just having functional Internet, (government) websites, databases and email for govt departments,” while Ceaser Cicero queried: “Lol, you want to erode the few jobs left in Zimbabwe for waiters and other attendants?”

Zvombo Zvehondo remarked: “Before we even start talking about robots Honourable (minister), let’s focus on our people’s everyday cries. Getting our people online cheaply should be primary to you. Deal with our unscrupulous local network providers (Econet Wireless, NetOne, Telecel and TelOne) please! In any case, these robots will further narrow our jobs!”

Tafadzwa Masey said: “You’re thinking far too off madam, we first need the basics such as a functional government website, official .gov.zw email addresses, access to the internet for rural communities, computers and computer lessons in all schools. Zvimwe izvo ratova drama! (which literally means anything else you suggest is drama). Your government departments (majority) are all still using gmail. The ministry itself (ICT) needs to catch up.”

Emmanuel Manuet noted: “With all due respect honorable (minister)….. Lets build the bottom up…. We can’t talk about robots when we do not have a network everywhere…. Let’s be realistic and fix our country.”

Mama Palesa suggested: “We need to adopt technologies that are suitable for developing countries, right now we have serious data issues.Let’s start with engaging Rural people and social media, digital resources, e-learning and e-marketing platforms. Takaenda.” Tatenda means “thank you!”

King Munhumutapa XXIV observed: “Zimbabwe needs to digitise all government services and (also) have reliable internet services in the country e.g. Starlink not some digital waiter to take away jobs in a country with high unemployment.”

Godfrey Godrun mocked: “What if we start with dropping the Gvt gmail email addresses? Is that not a security threat like Starlink?”

However, IT specialist, Peace Ngara defended the embracing of technology arguing technology makes life easier and simpler.

Ngara stated that the introduction of robots would see local tech developers create many such robots, repair them and improve thereby creating a technology industry for Zimbabwe.

“As a Digital transformation leader, I’m afraid I will have to agree with the Minister on this one (robots working at restaurants). I see everyone in comments talking about robots will take employment, it’s the unfortunate reality of civilization and by the way we have so many Computer Science Graduates in Zimbabwe,” Ngara said.

Dr Gugu_Ncube said: “While this is a good one, don’t you think this robot will now replace a waiter or waitress leading to high unemployment? Should we be advocating for technology to do “some simple tasks” or it should aid us in the rather complex tasks and we do the simple ones ourselves.

– CAJ News

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