Mthabisi Tshuma in Mashava
THE Government has said there is a need to bridge the digital drive on Information Communication Technology (ICT) countrywide as Covid-19 has brought about a new normal where physical interaction has been stalled.
This comes as the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services is on a drive to ensure the whole country taps into the advancement of technology through increased internet connectivity.
Speaking at the launch of the Mashava Community Information Centre (CIC) on Friday, Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services Dr Jenfan Muswere said broadband connectivity was the new normal that should be grasped by the nation.
“We are living in unprecedented times. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a new normal. It is no longer possible for us to mix and mingle, in our multitudes, as we used to do.
“As we go about our day to day lives, we can no longer gather, even for the purpose of worship. Students can no longer attend physical classes as they used to do.
“Our homes have become our offices and meeting places as we now conduct all our business meetings and social gatherings in the virtual environment, assisted by the increased connectivity, and e-meeting platforms. This is the new reality, an environment where every aspect of life is now underpinned by broadband connectivity,” said Dr Muswere.
He said the Government was on a mission to curb the negative impact of internet connectivity in rural areas.
“Whilst those living in urban centres can easily join the bandwagon and access internet connectivity, the same cannot be said of rural communities. It is for this reason that my Ministry is in full support of the drive by Potraz to bridge the digital divide through the different programmes. The regulator is undertaking to ensure that those in remote rural areas of our country have access to ICTs.”
He added that CICs were an integral part of that drive as they enable local communities to have access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) services at affordable rates. His Ministry, will therefore, continue to rollout programmes aimed at ensuring that the rural communities are kept abreast of technological development, especially now when we all need to be kept informed of the different aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“CICs play a crucial role in ensuring that more Zimbabweans are kept informed of the pandemic and have access to other ICTs services, during this pandemic. We, however, need to ensure that we observe all the Covid-19 hygienic requirements as we make use of the facilities at the CICs,” he said.
Dr Muswere said Government will remain committed to the attainment of a digital economy and a knowledge society.
“We will therefore continue to provide an enabling environment for the growth of the sector. The implementation of our National ICT Policy has led to the rollout of ICT Infrastructure comprising both fibre and wireless technologies, resulting in more than 8.7 million internet subscriptions being recorded as of December 2019.
“This has seen more of the country’s citizenry going online, which has made it easier to adjust to the new normal in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed as Government, we remain steadfast in our endeavour to maintain this growth,” he said.
Minister Muswere urged the local community to make full use of the facilities being commissioned to uplift their lives.
Potraz Director-General Dr Gift Machengete said the launch of CICs will enhance inclusivity of the general public to the digital space.
“The roll out of Community Information Centre, therefore, excites me as such centres ensure that no one is left behind in the virtual world — such centres ensure that rural communities are at par with cities in terms of access to information.
“It is for these reasons, that I consider it a privilege and indeed an honour to be addressing you at this glorious occasion – the launch of Mashava Community Information Centre,” he said. – @mthabisi_mthire.