Zimbabweans spent a total of $889 million on Information Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and services in the 12 months ending June 30, 2014, results of a survey the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) released on Wednesday show. ICT is an umbrella term used to describe any communication device or application, including radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software and satellite systems.The survey, dubbed ICT access by households and use by individuals, covered the period July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 and was carried out to measure the digital divide.
“Total household expenditure on ICT equipment and services for the last 12 months ending 30 June 2014 was about $232 million and $658 million respectively,” the report shows.
The survey results showed that on ICT equipment, Zimbabweans spent $90 million purchasing mobile handsets, $58 million on TV sets and $54 million on computers.
On ICT services, Zimbabweans spent $561 million on prepaid airtime, $42 million on internet charges, $12 million on fixed telephone charges and $12 million on repairing ICT equipment.
Harare province had the highest share of household expenditure on ICT equipment for the last 12 months ending 30 June 2014 of 35 percent followed by Manicaland province with 10 percent. The least share of about 3 percent was for Matabeleland South.
The report noted that while electricity was not an ICT core indicator, it was an important prerequisite for accessing many ICTs and according to the survey results the proportion of households that had access to electricity was 60 percent.
The survey showed that at household level at least 61 percent of the population had access to a radio, 40 percent had access to a television while 89 percent had access to a mobile phone.
Speaking at the survey results launch, Potraz acting director general Engineer Baxton Sirewu said the survey was critical in the endeavor to grow access to ICTs.
“From a public policy perspective digital inclusion can and has proved to be fundamental to the accelerated achievement of inclusivity in all facets of modern day life including health, education, agriculture, commerce, science and entertainment-to name just a few,” he said.
“We therefore need to foster innovation and growth while adhering to the principle of regular measurement in order to keep track of equitable progress and inclusive access.”
Sirewu said the lack of reliable, quality data hindered policy makers in decision making and in integrating ICTs into developmental goals.
As such, he said it was critical for players in the ICT sector to put in place systems for measuring access and usage of the devices.
The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency carried out the survey on behalf of Potraz and covered the country’s 10 provinces.—New Ziana