Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau
THE Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill that sailed through Parliament this month will ensure the safety and security of users in cyberspace.
Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere said this in Raffingora last week during the commissioning of a high-speed bandwidth community information centre.
Minister Muswere said while Zimbabwe was making huge strides in deploying ICT infrastructure in line with Vision 2030 and National Development Strategy 1 (NDS-1), the nation needed to pass the Bill into law to guarantee security of cyberspace users.
“We need to ensure that whilst we keep seizing the opportunities presented by this information age, we at the same time protect our security, our privacy, our prosperity and our values, whilst interacting in cyberspace.
“Let me therefore, reiterate the importance of the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill that passed through Parliament earlier this month. Once it becomes law, this Bill will help us to ensure that the safety and security of users is guaranteed in cyberspace,” he said.
Covid-19, Minister Muswere said, had exposed the need for universal access to ICT in communities, including remote areas.
The ICT Ministry had since instructed the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to put a raft of measures to cushion members of the public from the effects of the pandemic.
“As a result, we have made it a priority for POTRAZ to ensure that at least 1 500 rural health centres are connected to the Internet by 31 December 2021.
Zimpost has also been instructed to ensure that people visiting the Community Information Centres (CICs) have free internet access until the end of this year.
POTRAZ director general Dr Gift Machengete said the CICs being set up in rural areas were meant to bridge information gap and help support farmers.
“Through CICs, farmers can access various e-agriculture platforms that are available. Such platforms can enable farmers to hire or hire out equipment such as combine harvesters, tractors, trailers, boom sprayers and shellers among other things, thus improving on farming efficiency.
Farmers could also order implements and inputs online such as seed, fertilizer, pesticides and approach courier service providers such as ZIMPOST’s Courier Connect for delivery.
This would ensure farming operations were not hindered by travel restricting pandemics such as Covid–19.
Dr Machengete said apart from using CICs for the advancement of agriculture, the centres had various other essential uses that could transform people’s lives including that of students through e-learning and academic research.
The Authority has erected three shared base station towers in Neuso and Gachegache and 21 Community Information Centres, three of which are containerised units, while 18 were set up at Post Offices.
Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka and Zvimba North Legislator who is also Local Government and Public Works Deputy Minister Marian Chombo said the centre was a step towards achieving Vision 2030 which sought to improve lives in communities.