Community information centers (CICs) could be the answer to government’s call for increased financial inclusion amongst Zimbabwean citizens, ICT minister Hon Supa Mandiwanzira has said.
Officiating the the ongoing three day Universal Postal Union digital financial services workshop, minister Mandiwanzira said government has embarked on a countrywide drive meant transform all old ZIMPOST and POST Office buildings into modern day Community Information Centers.
“This workshop is without doubt an important forum where all key stakeholders with interest in the development of the Postal financial services, will openly share experiences and exchange ideas as they seek to find means and ways of ensuring that the unbanked communities are brought back onto the stream, and have access to and are indeed able to utilise financial services in fulfillment of their needs. The majority of the global population is still unbanked, and this is more pronounced on the African continent, the situation calls for concrete steps to bring financial inclusion to all the underprivileged and marginalised rural communities in our countries.
“Extending access to financial services to all our citizens is an important tool in empowering them to not only fulfill their needs and their dreams, but most importantly to stimulate their participation in business and economic activities. POSTAL administration while a significant geographical presence in the countries which they operate, have not been able to fully exploit their potential due to a number of reasons among them being insufficient cash flows to fund some of the transactions that are necessary.
“Just to tell you briefly what we are doing as Zimbabwe in regard to the postal network upgrading and modernization, we realised here that governments spent a lot of money building brick and mortar to put up good postal services infrastructure across the the country at huge cost to the Tax payer, but the because the letter is dead and that was the main reason why these structures were built, we realised that this infrastructure was dilapidated and there is no money to maintain that infrastructure and upgrade them so what we have done is come up with a concept of community formation centers where we have upgraded those Post offices to make sure that they become ICT ready which will deliver ICT services and products through post office.
“What we have done is we have transformed them into what might call internet Cafes, however we have gone beyond providing internet services and we offer services such and training of people with those communities on how to use computers. We take it for granted when we are in the urban areas that everybody has got access to the internet,” said the minister.
He added that some of the kids in rural areas had never seen a newspaper excerpt on a newspaper or picture.
“Thus when we convert the CICs we actually provide a much needed service and an education platform for the areas. So we are providing information, we are providing hardware, we are providing software, internet access and we are also providing facilities for young kids to play games, PSPs, Xbox etc,
In 2016 , government did about 70 CICs and aims to have completed setting up another 70 in 2017 with latest one being the Plumtree one and another scheduled for commissioning in Mutare this week.