GOVERNMENT remains committed to the attainment of a digital economy and knowledge society, and continues to create an enabling environment for growth of the telecommunications sector in line with the policy to ensure every citizen has internet connectivity.
Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere said this yesterday in Sanyati, Mashonaland West Province during the launch of the Sanyati Community Information Centre (CIC).
Already, the telecommunications sector has reached a mobile penetration rate of 94.2 percent, up from the 10,4 percent in 2008 while the internet penetration rate has also been consistently growing over the years and stands at 59.1 percent from 1.3 percent in 2008.
“It is government’s policy to ensure that all citizens of Zimbabwe have access to broadband connectivity, including for rural and low-income communities,” said Dr Muswere.
A number of initiatives were being rolled out, through the Universal Service Fund (USF), to increase access to ICTs among rural communities.
Access to ICTs and effective participation in the digital economy is considered critical in improving the quality of life for all citizens.
Dr Muswere said the CIC initiative resonated well with his ministry’s vision anchored on leveraging ICTs for sustainable development.
Knowledge in the use of ICTs is now seen as a basic need and an essential skill for human survival, hence Government’s decision to take the necessary steps to facilitate research and development, through establishment of CICs as a way of motivating the development of home grown solutions to the socio-economic challenges Zimbabwe is facing.
An ICT innovation drive has since been launched with the objective of promoting a culture of ICT innovation and development among youths.
Dr Muswere said in line with the country’s thrust of Education 5.0, and the aspirations of attaining a middle-income economy by 2030, the Innovation Drive was assisting innovation hubs at universities in the acquisition of the tools and equipment required to support the attainment of this national vision.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka praised the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), for funding the establishment of the Sanyati Community Information Centre.
She said the people of Mashonaland West would “cherish and protect” the facility for the benefit of all, use it to bridge the digital divide, improve market access through e-Commerce including on a local scale, and enhance equitable access to information in general and e-Government services in particular.
Potraz director general, Dr Gift Machengete, said despite the battle against Covid-19, Government and its institutions such as Potraz had a duty to ensure developmental projects were not derailed.
“We have the responsibility to ensure that communities have access to basic ICT infrastructure and we have a mandate to ensure that no one is left behind in the information highway.
“This is why Potraz and the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services found it necessary to continue with the roll out of Community Information Centres (CICs) despite the inhibiting Covid -19 environment,” said Dr Machengete.
The Sanyati CIC is one of the 18 CICs and three Containerised Village Information Centres (CVICs) set up in Mashonaland West Province so far.
Of these, 15 are already operational including Sanyati, and the target is to have the rest of the sites operational by year end.