POSTAL and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe director-general Gift Machengete says his organisation will continue to roll out Community Information Centres (CICs) across the country to increase access to information as a viable weapon in the fight against COVID-19.
By Harriet Chikandiwa
Officially opening a CIC in Sanyati on Monday, Machengete said dissemination of information through information communication technology had become more important than it was before the COVID-19 crisis.
“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,” he said.
“This direction comes from the realisation that access to ICTs and access to accurate information is essential in the fight against COVID-19.”
He added: “It comes from the need to provide platforms for students to conduct online lessons so that they are not left behind in their studies. It also comes from the need to advance e-commerce as normal trading has been affected by COVID-19.”
The Sanyati CIC is one of the 18 that the telecoms regulator has set up in Mashonaland West province. Fifteen of the 18 CICs are already operational.
Apart from providing e-learning equipment throughout the country, Potraz has also erected 20 shared base station towers across the country and is also working with mobile network operators in the construction of 15 shared base station towers under a build, operate and transfer arrangement.
Machengete said it was Potraz’s responsibility to ensure that communities have access to basic ICT infrastructure so that no one is left behind in the information highway.
“Potraz is also promoting the design and development of software and applications that respond to the socio-economic needs of the communities through the ICT innovation drive,” Machengete said.
“The initiative supports talented and skilled young people to come up with innovative ICT solutions that can benefit people in their day-to-day lives while creating employment.”
Also speaking at the launch, ICT minister Jenfan Muswere said access to ICTs and effective participation in the digital economy was critical in improving the quality of life for all citizens.
He said because of the importance of ICT in positively transforming lives, the government was supporting the innovation drive by assisting innovation hubs at universities in the acquisition of the tools and equipment design and development of software and applications.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said she was willing to work with all stakeholders involved in the provision of postal and telecommunication services in her province.