Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
GOVERNMENT has started connecting 1 300 schools to Internet to further improve the country’s literacy levels through provision of quality education and ease access to information. Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Cde Supa Mandiwanzira said this yesterday while addressing delegates at the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) underway in Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Minister Mandiwanzira said Zimbabwe had registered great success in the area of access and accessibility of internet services. “We have installed over 200 Community Information Centres (CICs), 80 of them in 2016 alone, at post offices across the country. These CICs, as we call them, serve as contemporary public amenities providing local communities with access to high speed Internet, printing and other related services, at sub-commercial and affordable rates.
The CICs have brought access to all genders in Zimbabwe, particularly in the rural areas, thereby making progress in bridging the digital divide and ensuring gender equality, in terms of access, in line with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) on Gender equality and the goal on reducing inequalities,” he said
“We are also continuously implementing the schools digitisation programme. Currently, we are connecting, 1 300 schools to the Internet. We have noted with delight that we are on course to achieving the goal on quality education. The high literacy levels in Zimbabwe are evidence of our robust education policy aided by ICTs.” Minister Mandiwanzira said the efforts had seen increased the use of ICTs in underserved areas by all genders and Zimbabweans were becoming digital natives.
He said the groundwork had already been completed for a major ICT infrastructure project involving the construction of over 500 units of towers and extension of the national backbone fibre network across the country and the move would result in a massive roll-out of broadband to all corners of the country.
Minister Mandiwanzira said the ICT sector had also partnered the agricultural sector. “With regards to the SDG on elimination of hunger, the ICT sector has partnered with the agricultural sector by conveying information on farming inputs, weather, transport details and offering insurance related applications, for the success of Zimbabwe’s Command Agriculture Programme. This has seen Zimbabwe’s grain reserves for the staple grain hit the one the million tonne mark and are expected to exceed the usual requirements for the country. No one will go hungry in the country,” he said.
Minister Mandiwanzira said he was happy that a lot, particularly in the areas of Capacity Building, ICTs for Disaster Management and Climate Adaptation, Digital Inclusion, Telemedicine and Spectrum Management — had been achieved under the Dubai Action Plan of 2014. He thanked the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the assistance received in the implementation of a Telemedicine Project involving the connection of twelve clinics in remote rural areas, two district hospitals, a provincial hospital and at the apex, a referral medical centre to each other.