The Herald (Harare)

11 December 2010

Zimbabwe: Inaugural ICT Achievers Awards a Success

The inaugural ICT Achievers Awards held last weekend at Crowne Plaza Monomotapa Hotel was a massive success. They rewarded excellence in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector and brought the unsung heroes of the industry to the fore.

The future for the industry in Zimbabwe is indeed bright, judging by the level of competition exuded in most categories and the ideas that were being thrown around the dining tables on that drizzly night in the city.

ICT conferences have been used as platforms to promote and bring awareness to a host of issues and currently one of the challenges the world faces is climate change and global warming, a really hot global topic.

Climate change is the long-term change in statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years.

Global warming, on the other hand, causes climate change as it refers to an increase in the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere (especially a sustained increase that causes climatic changes).

The ICT Achievers Awards recognised Verengai Mabika, founder and co-ordinator of Development Reality Institute (DRI), as the ICT Young Innovator of the Year for the role played by his organisation. DRI developed a virtual school on climate change that offers a free four-week course on climate change.

Techno Talk decided to zero in on DRI because the young team that runs this virtual school and their intense dedication to using ICT to bring about practical changes in the way that the citizens of the country view climatic issues.

DRI is a youth-oriented organisation formed in 2008 and formally registered as a trust. The organisation was established to develop innovative strategies that enhance society's adaptive capacity to the effects of climate change, enhance access to health care and promote a society where communities enjoy their rights.

DRI achieves this through capacity building, policy analysis, knowledge management and programme interventions.

"Our organisation's work is premised on three strategic focus areas which are climate change, public health and health informatics. These programmes are implemented through a network of young, international volunteers and collaborations with other development partners," said Mr Mabika.

He said initially the organisation was established to close a gap that limited youth participation in important issues. DRI was formed to explore ways of increasing the impact of youth participation in development programmes, sharing information and best practices, securing resources to support youth development programmes and advocating for the interests of young people in public health, environment management and governance in Africa.

"A priority for DRI is to promote sustainable socio-economic development and build the capacity of community- based and civil society organisations to transform livelihoods of the marginalised groups through participatory and innovative solutions. DRI believes that an integrated development approach is the most appropriate strategy to address the current needs of the vulnerable communities in Africa," said Mr Mabika.

As co-ordinator of DRI he noted that the implementation strategy of DRI is premised on the understanding that young people have a unique ability for innovation and the fact that they are the captains of their future and so should significantly contribute to the development agenda.

"DRI envisions a society where there is sustainable use and management of natural resources and adaptation to climate change for the benefit of mankind. Through the climate change programme, we seek to, among a host of other issues, to strengthen communities capacity to respond to the effects of climate change through the virtual school.

To advocate through policy dialogue forums for the inclusion of climate change mitigation and adaptation issues in the national and local policies and legislation," said Mr Mabika.

Established in 2008 and fully operational in July of 2009, DRI has accomplished in just over a year what other organisations take a lifetime to achieve. In September, in New York, at the World Youth Summit Awards which ran alongside the United Nations General Assembly, DRI scooped the Go Green! Award for their virtual school.

"That victory was very special because since the awards' launch in 2005 there hadn't been an African country that had won in any of the categories. At this year's awards Zimbabwe and Egypt were the only African nations to win something, so in essence it just goes to show that with the right support Zimbabwe can rise to the top in the ICT field," said Mr Mabika.

He said initially people were sceptical as to whether they deserved the award saying they were only chosen because there was not much to choose from but the acknowledgement showed how they are playing a part in helping Zimbabwe realise its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

However, the sceptics can be further humiliated by the fact that on the eve of the ICT Achievers Awards DRI received notification of their victory in yet another international competition this time at the Stockholm Challenge.

"We will be going to Stockholm in March to claim our prize for coming out tops in the environment category in the Stockholm Challenge in March next year which will mark another milestone in DRI's achievements, in conjunction with our strategic partners," said Mr Mabika.

ICT Achievers 2010

ICT COMPANY OF THE YEAR CATEGORY

1. Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Ltd

2. Afrosoft Holdings (Pvt) Ltd

Ict Project of the Year Public Sector

1. NetOne (Solar-Powered Base Stations In Rural Areas).

2. Afrosoft Holdings (Pvt) Ltd (Department of Immigrations Entry and Exit System).

Ict Businessman of the Year

1. Mr Douglas Mboweni

2. Engineer John Mberi

Ict Businesswoman of the Year

1. Rudo Mudavanhu

2. Caroline Chirima

Ict Journalist of the Year

1. Mqhele Tshuma

2. Limbikani Soul Makani Kwabeza

Top ICT Civil Society/NGO

1. Childline Zimbabwe

2. Development Reality Institute

Ict Young Innovator of the Year

1. Verengai Mabika

2. Kudzai Sadomba

Special Awards

1st Special Award

"The ICT Achievers Award in Recognition of a Lifetime Contribution to the ICT Sector"

2nd SPECIAL AWARDS

"The ICT Achievers Award in recognition of Continental Excellence."

3rd SPECIAL AWARD

"The ICT Achievers Award in recognition of Continental Excellence."

4th SPECIAL AWARD

"The ICT Achievers Award in Recognition of Pioneering Leadership in ICT Transformation."

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