Govt takes ICTs to the people

Harmony Agere
President Mugabe not only displayed his easy-going nature when he, in the middle of a speech at the official opening of Dangamvura Information Centre last week, made reference to a lizard inching towards him as he spoke.

“Heroka dzvinyu ririkufamba, ririkuda kunzwa, kuda kutapa zvandiri kutaura,” he smiled, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

And as if he was not the originator of the banter, the President seamlessly reverted to his speech with characteristic charming wit.

The iconic educationist is never short of humour, even when presiding over something as important as spreading the IT revolution across Zimbabwe.

The Dangamvura Information Centre was opened ahead of the Presidential Youth Interface Rally at Sakubva Stadium that afternoon.

This was the third such centre that President Mugabe opened after others in Murombedzi and Masvingo.

The three are amongst 80 centres constructed by the ICT and Courier Services Ministry in partnership with Zarnet.

President Mugabe — a former teacher — underscored that community information centres played a major role in modern education, particularly for rural communities.

“We have had discussions with Cde (Supa) Mandiwanzira (the ICT Minister) to say let’s give young people facilities which will enable them to get access to information,” said the President.

“We had a talk, and he was saying we want you to open the information centre before going to the rally in Sakubva, so that is why we are here today. I want to say congratulations to him and congratulations to you also the people of Dangamvura, you now have an information centre. It is our hope that the facility will not be abused and will be used for its intended purposes.”

President Mugabe implored the ICT Ministry to work with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to equip rural schools with modern communications facilities.

Minister Mandiwanzira pledged to continue working with his Primary and Secondary Education counterpart Dr Lazarus Dokora, saying 1 500 schools would – starting this month – have Internet access installed.

“Starting this month we will be installing internet in about 1 500 schools. We have already secured funding from Potraz and Zarnet will be doing the construction. We are also working with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, so that in the schools that they are installing computers, under the President’s e-learning programme, we follow up and install internet,” he said.

On the Dangamvura centre, Minister Mandiwanzira said the facility was equipped with laptops, printing machines and WiFi.

“Dangamvura Community Information Centre is one of the 80 community centres that have been built in the country in the last six months,” he said. “This one was a post office and it had deteriorated into deplorable conditions but we managed to resuscitate it.”

Murombedzi Community Information Centre, launched by President Mugabe in 2014, is also one-stop ICT shop which offers Internet access, photocopying, printing, scanning, faxing, laminating and gaming services.

The same concept has been rolled out in Mubaira, Murambinda, Ngundu, Maphisa, Gokwe, Dotito, Sadza, Lupane, among other areas.

According to Zarnet, “the overall aim of establishing community information centres is to achieve equity of access to information, thereby bridge the digital divide between urban and rural communities”.

ICTs can avail information relevant for agriculture, processing, marketing, transport, food storage, education, healthcare, disease control and environmental management among other areas.

Community information centres also come in handy for rural communities where the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry has started electronic applications (e-map) to secure enrolment.

President Mugabe highlighted that without information, rural communities were hampered from fully participating in their own development.

The President capped the ceremony by donating computers to 20 schools in Mutare.

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