Last week, we received a press release on the winning of a Global Telecoms Business award by Norman Moyo, an exec at Tanzanian mobile operator called Zantel. We posted the story here. Moyo has worked for Celtel in Zambia and Nigeria, Econet Wireless in Zimbabwe and Zain in Bahrain. He was recognised as one of the top 40 global executives under the age of 40 in the telecoms industry.
For the article, we asked Moyo what he is investing in back home. His response was something we found quite interesting. Here’s an extract:
I am investigating a number of projects in Zimbabwe but strangely not in telecom sector per se… I believe there is great value in the agricultural sector and with the knowledge we have gained working in Africa and Middle East, I believe Zimbabwe is sitting on a unique competitive advantage. The world needs food and good quality food and yes some of the most fertile soils are in Zimbabwe. In as much as Nigeria gets its vast revenues from oil, Zim has its own “oil”. We just need to shake off some our misgivings and get back to farming and extract that oil. The world is increasingly requiring more food and we can feed it. That’s what we can do better than anyone else in the world !
The temptation is to think Moyo doesn’t believe in the potential of ICTs. If he did, he’d put his money where his mouth is right? Not quite.
In my opinion, it is telecoms leaders like him that can best connect the dots and use ICT’s effectively in our existing economic sectors like Agriculture. Moyo (and others like him) have seen the impact of ICTs in some of the biggest mobile markets in Africa like Nigeria. The lessons learnt across the continent (and beyond) can help resolve some of the telecoms issues we face and translate our high mobile penetration and rising internet penetration to directly benefit the people of Zimbabwe and those in the region.
ICTs are pervasively changing information management and distribution in every sector of the economy. The rate of acquiring information and using it for economic and social benefit has exponentially increased. So much it scares some people into hiding their heads in the sand. It is indeed an unfortunate situation that only a few business leaders and entrepreneurs understand and see the abundant possibilities and opportunities the spread of ICTs is bringing.
Young Leaders like Moyo, whose primary duty has been driving the adoption of ICTs across the continent, can see things differently even in the long-established (well, recently disrupted) sectors like Agriculture. They understand and do not fear the tech tools.