ATU Fuels Broadband Connectivity ln Rural Areas

Minister of lnformation Communication Technologies, Postal and Courier Services Dr Tatenda Mavetera acknowledged the role played by African Telecommunications Union (ATU) in including rural to the world of technology.

This was at the ATU day held in Harare on Monday, speaking on the day Mavetera said, “ATU have played a vital role by formulating strategies that promote inclusivity and combat exclusionary practices within ICT sectors across different countries. For example, ATU has launched projects aimed at enhancing broadband connectivity throughout rural areas where infrastructure has historically been lacking.

Universal access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is crucial in today’s digital age. It not only facilitates economic growth and social development but also promotes inclusivity by ensuring that marginalized communities have equal opportunities. However, several infrastructural challenges hinder universal access to ICTs”.

She also said,” The first challenge to universal access is the lack of adequate infrastructure. Many regions, particularly in developing countries, suffer from limited or unreliable internet connectivity due to the absence of proper infrastructure. This hampers individuals’ ability to utilize ICTs effectively and limits their participation in the digital revolution. To overcome this hurdle, it is essential to focus on infrastructure-sharing initiatives. We have already made progress in this regard through our Infrastructure sharing policy where we have seen MNOs in Zimbabwe begin to share towers. More can and should be done to increase the pace of such infrastructure sharing and tower relocation. In addition, we must begin to not only consider but to implement the sharing of equipment affixed to the towers, allowing multiple service providers to utilize the same resources efficiently.

Collaboration among stakeholders is another key approach for addressing accessibility issues. Governments, private sector entities, civil society organizations, and local communities must work together to develop comprehensive solutions that cater to diverse needs and requirements. By pooling resources, knowledge, and expertise, collaboration can help overcome barriers such as high costs or limited coverage areas. Our ultimate goal must not only be to increase coverage but it must also make access to ICTs affordable for the consumer”.

Mavetera added that while improved connectivity is important for universal access, it must be accompanied by affordable access to smart devices capable of utilizing ICT services. Many marginalized individuals may not have the means or affordability to own smartphones or other advanced devices necessary for accessing digital platforms effectively.

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