The Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services Dr Jenfan Muswere on Monday officially commissioned Sanyati Community Information Centre in Mashonaland West province.
By Tongai Mwenje
Located some 90km off Kadoma, the rural community was recently switched on to the digital world which saw the old post office being converted into a communication centre with connected computers and powered up by a dedicated Vsat satellite technology.
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The latest digital development in the northern central part of Zimbabwe is now the 15th operational Community Information Centre in the province out of a total 18 renovated ones.
Started by the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier in conjunction with Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe ( POTRAZ) more than five years ago, the initiative is aimed at equipping the ‘underserved and unserved’ communities with digital skills.
These are formerly post offices premises converted to suit the digital age where people can access computers, the Internet and other digital technologies that enable them to gather information, create, learn and communicate without geographical limitation.
Speaking during the official launch, Muswere who was the guest of honour underscored the importance of setting up these centres in bridging the digital divide between the rural and urban people.
” It is government’s policy to ensure that all citizens of Zimbabwe have access to broadband connectivity, including for rural and low-income communities. A number of initiatives are being rolled out, through the Universal Service Fund, to increase access to ICTs among rural communities. I want to assure you ladies and gentlemen, that as government we will never tire in our relentless efforts to ensure that access to ICTs continues to improve across the country,” he said.
“Access to ICTs and effective participation in the digital economy is critical in improving the quality of life for all the citizens of Zimbabwe. The CIC initiative therefore, resonates very well with my Ministry’s vision that is anchored on leveraging ICTs for sustainable development. ICTs contribute to the SDGs in promoting inclusive, sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation. Efficient and affordable ICT infrastructure and services allow countries to participate in the digital economy and to increase their overall economic well-being, competitiveness, digital inclusion, poverty reduction and improved health.”
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe’s Director General Dr Gift Machengete said although the world, Zimbabwe included, is currently grappling with COVID-19 pandemic, developmental projects must not be derailed.
” We are faced with the huge problem of COVID – 19, a problem that has disrupted our lives, a problem that has threatened our very existence. However, in the midst of such adversity, Government and Government institutions such as POTRAZ have a duty to ensure that developmental projects are 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.”
He added that POTRAZ and the government will continue to roll out Community Information Centres despite the inhabiting COVID-19 environment.
“This direction comes from the realisation that access to ICTs and access to accurate information is essential in the fight against COVID – 19. 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. It is for these reasons that I am excited to be addressing you all at this official launch of the Sanyati CIC,” Machengete said.
The Minister of State for Mashonaland West, Honourable Mary Thandiwe Mliswa welcomed the gesture by Potraz to empower her province as she pledged to fully utilise the facility.
” …even as I welcome you to Mashonaland West, I must not forget to thank you POTRAZ, under the visionary leadership of Dr Gift Machengete, for having funded the establishment of this Community Information Centre. Honourable Minister ( Muswere), as responsible citizens, we the people of Mashonaland West province pledge that we will cherish and protect this facility for the benefit of all. We will use this facility to bridge the digital divide…”
Meanwhile, POTRAZ, through its “connect a school, connect a community” initiative donated laptops to schools in Sanyati.