Source: Govt opens up access to info | The Herald September 28, 2019
Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Government is committed to ensuring that all citizens across the country have access to information so that they can make informed decisions, accelerate development at all levels and contribute to economic growth.
This emerged yesterday during the International Day for Universal Access to Information commemorations held at Rudhaka Stadium, Marondera.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared September 28 of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).
Senior Government officials, representatives from the telecommunication operators, members of the public and students attended the commemorations, which ran under the theme, “Access to information: Leaving no one behind”.
ICT, Postal and Courier Services Minister Kazembe Kazembe said access to information by all people was critical to sustainable economic development.
“In pursuit of a new trajectory of accelerated economic growth and wealth creation and the Government’s Vision 2030 to achieve a digital and upper middle class economy, Government formulated the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), putting ICT at the centre of national development and empowering communities by making it possible for them to access information and exploit the country’s abundant human and natural resources.
“Our mandate is to develop supportive, enabling communications infrastructure to ensure equitable access by all citizens including disadvantaged groups and rural communities,” he said.
Minister Kazembe said in line with this year’s theme, Government had already embarked on programmes to provide and achieve access to information.
He said Government was funding the establishment of multi-operator mobile base stations in marginalised and rural communities using resources from the Universal Services Fund (USF).
“Currently, there are 8 884 base stations countrywide, 6 246 base stations are deployed in urban Zimbabwe and the other 2 638 in our rural areas in our area forming network coverage of 96 percent,” said Minister Kazembe.
He said the country required 350 additional base stations and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) had already flighted a tender inviting investors for the deployment of base stations across the county.
The ICT Ministry had also embarked on initiatives to bridge the digital and information gap by setting up community information centres and containerised village information centres in disadvantaged communities.
“To date, 100 community information centres and 23 community village centres are already operational around the country providing facilities for internet surfing, recreation, scanning and training, among others,” said Minister Kazembe.
He said the infrastructure will help farmers and entrepreneurs, even in rural areas, to gain access to information about prices, data on crops, weather conditions and market opportunities.
Internet penetration in Zimbabwe has grown significantly to 57,9 percent while mobile penetration is now at 83,3 percent, representing a gigantic leap in terms of digital access to information.