The Sunday Mail
Government is accelerating digital access to previously unconnected communities through the establishment of Community Information Centres (CICs).
On Friday, Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Dr Jenfan Muswere officially launched the Ruwa Community Information Centre in Mashonaland East Province.
Minister Muswere said the CICs that Government is setting countrywide will help communities deal with numerous social issues.
“Community Information Centres provide a multi-sectoral environment that cuts across various industries like agriculture, the health care industry, and the mining sector, among many others. The centres also help to address social issues faced by both rural and peri-urban families, especially the youth and women in these societies,” he said.
“Access to digital technologies provides opportunities for people to explore and imagine possible scenarios in any industry, such as agriculture, mining or commerce.
“Community Information Centres offer a chance for creative and innovative minds to break down barriers and create solutions that can be used in their own communities to solve the various socio-economic problems our country may face from time to time.”
The Covid-19 has also highlighted the need for the unconnected to be unconnected.
Speaking at the same event, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general Dr Gift Machengete said in addition to setting up digital infrastructure, Government was also ensuring that the communities have access to affordable internet.
“As we focus on affordability as the lynchpin for Internet access and use, I am pleased to inform you that this Community Information Centre and all other such sites are offering free Internet access to patrons until 31 December 2021. While Internet Surfing Cubicles may not be enough to accommodate everyone, patrons are free to bring their own devices and access the WIFI,” he said.
Potraz, in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, has also embarked on a project to connect 1 500 schools by year end, which is expected to boost e-learning.
In a related development, the Authority has paid bandwidth for 570 schools nationwide that had already been connected.
“This was after the realisation that connected schools were not benefiting from the internet as they could not afford the bandwidth costs. To date 473 schools have been connected in the past two weeks alone and 97 are still outstanding,” said Dr Machengete.
Potraz has also embarked on a project to connect 1 500 Health Care Centres across the country.