Pan African technology group, Liquid Intelligent Technologies regional chief executive officer (Southern Africa), Wellington Makamure says the group will continue to invest towards bridging the connectivity gap in Zimbabwe, as economies the world-over had become increasingly digital.
Zimbabwe and the rest of the region are pursuing digitalisation across sectors, as an enabler for economic growth, although the digital drive has been accelerated by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Financial services, education, health, manufacturing, transport and logistics, mining and agriculture all require technology for smooth flow of business operations.
Mr Makamure said access to the internet and digital technology was critical in the current dispensation, yet the country still has connectivity gaps.
“Zimbabwe, like many African countries, faces significant issues such as lack of access to connectivity, healthcare, energy, education, etc.
“On the other hand, nearly 48 percent of Zimbabwe’s population is young, and the region has the potential to create equal and inclusive opportunities for its youth to learn and enter the job market with the necessary skill set and lead productive, fulfilling lives.
“The needs of the hour are high-impact technological interventions and community-wide reforms to broaden the reach for opportunities.
“Accessing the internet and digital technologies is a turning point in the lives of many. Students who have access can study courses online, find jobs and even learn new vocational skills.
“As a key technology player on the continent, Liquid Intelligent Technologies with its extensive fibre network of 100 000 kilometres across Africa is providing broadband voice and data in major cities and towns.
“The driving mission for Liquid is to build Africa’s digital future without leaving anyone behind,” he said.
As part of initiatives to enhance connectivity, the group is also working with disadvantaged communities especially in rural areas through providing connectivity to enhance their quality of education, healthcare service delivery and everyday lives.
“Liquid has a long-term commitment to invest in rural areas and bring a social and digital transformation to communities that need it the most.
“The company endeavours to discharge social responsibility, going beyond technology and addressing critical social issues effectively by partnering with the Government,” said Mr Makamure.
Some of the initiatives are carried out through Edu-Zones, which is Liquid Zimbabwe’s corporate social responsibility initiative to provide free wi-fi to students in 52 educational institutions through these Wi-Fi zones.
Said Mr Makamure: “Since its launch in July 2018, thousands of students and teachers are benefiting from high speed, reliable internet connectivity that is critical for studies. It has had a positive impact in improving exam pass rates and creating career opportunities for students.
“Internet access and connectivity open doors to knowledge and opportunity.”
Edu-Zones have also helped universities and polytechnics to save money on internet data costs with an unprecedented — in terms of the number and geographical spread of institutions connected to free wi-fi.
The group has also placed special focus on helping children, 70 percent of whom live in remote rural areas where lack of internet connectivity and poor infrastructure are major hindrances to learning.
Statistics show that only 31 percent of Zimbabwe’s primary and secondary schools have internet access, at a time e-learning is fast growing due to Covid-19 pandemic.
But the group has stepped in by providing connectivity and assisting in improving existing infrastructure in schools. For instance, the group funded the construction of an administration block at Sinechembu School, in remote areas of Gokwe as well as refurbishing Raffingora Primary School classrooms.
Liquid is also providing free Internet at Mufudzi Wakanaka School, in Wedza. As part of this project, the organisation chipped in the installation of a garden fence and a solar-powered borehole, providing the entire community with clean water.