It’s been a momentous month in Zimbabwe, and we’re not just talking about the political coup. From 15-18 November, the Computer Society of Zimbabwe (CSZ) staged its annual Summer School, one of the biggest events on the local ICT calendar.

While the Zimbabwe army was moving to place former President Mugabe under house arrest, the nation’s leading ICT professionals were gathering at picturesque Victoria Falls for the four-day event, which showcased the latest technology developments, methodologies and policies impacting ICT.

CSZ council member, past president and Zimbabwe’s representative to IFIP, Lawrence Gudzu, was convenor of the Summer School, bringing together a full two thirds of the CSZ’s 300-strong members along with invited plenary speakers, industry telcos and vendors, students and researchers.

“Our theme was: “ICTs are critical tools for promoting human development and reducing inequalities”, which we crafted in light of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr Gudzu explained.

“Since the whole world is committed to delivering these goals by 2030, the idea was to investigate how ICTS can be the tools to deliver on the agenda. Since we couldn’t attend to all the SDGs, we broke them down to the critical ones for Zimbabwe, in the areas of agriculture, health, finance & banking systems, and education & learning.

“The SDGs are interwoven so successful delivery in one has an impact on others. These are the key ones that Zimbabwe has embraced and we believe that addressing them will help us to come up with outcomes that will reveal how best we should go forward,” he said.

IFIP was formally represented at the Summer School by IFIP IP3 chair, Moira de Roche and Australian Computer Society (ACS) president and IFIP Council member, Anthony Wong.

They both presented plenary sessions: Mr Wong spoke about the benefits and challenges associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI), including exploring the issue of who is liable when things go wrong, while Ms de Roche discussed the importance of ICT professionalism in delivering sustainable outcomes.

“A key distinction that came out of the talks was that if ICT is the ring that binds – the source of the trajectory that will ensure we deliver the SDGs by 2030 – then it is essential that we narrow the digital divide and ensure that all people have equitable access to technology,” Mr Gudzu said.

Broad representation from across all parts of the ICT sector along with involvement from the UN Development Program, the Food and Agriculture Authority, Reserve Bank, College of Health Sciences and the Telecommunications Regulation Authority of Zimbabwe ensured that delegates were provided with a range of industry and policy perspectives.

“The Summer School was a great success and delegates shared that they got more than they expected in terms of range of topics covered, the insights into AI and the focus on professionalism as a contributor to sustainability and achieving the SDGs.

“We were particularly pleased to have input from IFIP and IP3, which helped to encourage greater interest in the importance of ICT professionalism while adding significant value for our members,” he said.