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Zimbabwe pushes for increased Internet usage

by Staff reporter
30 Jan 2019 at 15:13hrs | Views
ICT minister Kazembe Kazembe says government is forging ahead with its plans push to bring high-speed Internet to rural areas around the country in an effort to accelerate economic development.

This comes as the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has so far established 75 Community Information Centres (CICs) in marginalised areas out of a planned 147.

"I have been lobbying the president for more initiatives like this because it will ultimately lead to eventual economic development.

"He is very keen on such matters and I am sure this is not the end you are seeing of this," Kazembe said at the launch of the Guruve CIC at the weekend.

The CIC is anticipated to bring universal Internet access to the area as well as provide jobs for those who work at the centre. State and private players see broadband access as essential for economic development, and for giving consumers in remote areas access to educational opportunities such as online college courses. It also could open the doors for "telemedicine" so that rural patients can confer online with medical specialists in urban areas and quickly share test results and other information.

Lands minister Perrance Shiri said the CIC's scheme would also be crucial for the development of e-farming in the country.

"Guruve farmers will benefit immensely from this initiative through e-farming. However, they should not take advantage of this to abuse social media as we have seen in the past few weeks," he said.

Gift Machengete, Potraz's director-general, said the setting up of CICs is expected to make high-speed Internet service more readily available in rural Zimbabwe.

"We have planned to set up a total of 147 CICs and now 75 are already operational. In this province of Mashonaland Central, we have already set up seven out of 11.
Through this programme, we have trained 10 397 people nationwide and 1 710 in Mashonaland Central," he said.

Since October 2017, Potraz has been moving from province to province establishing CICs and training individuals in ICT literacy.

The CICs are constructed at post offices through a collaboration with Zimpost, offering Internet, gaming centre and other ICT related services to communities.

As part of its mandate to promote innovation and adoption of advanced ICTs across country, Potraz has so far donated over 100 computers to schools located around CICs that has been commissioned.

The computers donated by the regulator are directly channelled towards the support of government's e-learning programme which was put into action in 2017.

"Through the e-learning programme 60 schools have benefited. We also expect that 1 300 schools will be connected in conjunction with Zarnet through the same programme.

"Today we bring laptops and a printer to two local secondary schools.

This is done to ensure schools also benefit from the drive.

"We are taking this programme everywhere and have even started talking to our mobile network operators for them to assist where they can," Machengete said.

Meanwhile, the Potraz boss said the regulator was also setting up mobile network base stations across the country, with the latest set for commissioning in Gache Gache this week.

"We have set up 15 base stations around the country. We have plans to set up an additional 250 base stations, together with investors. What we are looking at is a situation where local operators will then use our infrastructure for a fee," he said, adding discussions with various investors were now advanced.

Source - dailynews

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