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Govt to bridge digital divide

By Staff Reporter

Information Communication Technology minister Jenfan Muswere says government is stepping up efforts to bridge the digital divide by ensuring that all people in rural and new farming areas have similar access to cellphones, computers and the internet.

Officially opening a new containerised village information centre (CVIC) at Manoti Business Centre in Gokwe yesterday, Muswere said people living in rural areas had a big role to play in the creation of a digital economy through the use of ICTs.

He said participation of people in rural areas in ICTs will ultimately improve their quality of life.

Muswere said the government had several plans to ensure that people had access to ICTs, including the setting up of community information centres (CICs).
“Knowledge is now a basic need and an essential skill for productivity,” he said.

Muswere said post offices will have equipment to facilitate e-commerce, banking and job searches in rural areas
“Let’s use our phones and computers in our farming activities and to market our produces as well as provision of health services to achieve sustainable development,” he said.

“The use of ICTs will help end poverty and uplift women so that they do not remain marginalised.”

Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) director general, Gift Machengete said the Manoti Centre (CVIC), was one of the 24 set-up in the eight rural provinces in the country.

He said all the CVICs would provide free training in the use of computers to members of the community.

Machengete said over the past years Potraz had also established community information centres at post offices throughout the country.

To date, he said 146 CICs had been set up, bringing the total CIC and CVICs established countrywide to 170.

Machengete said to date
11 637 members of the community had undergone free training in the use of computers throughout the country.

He said Potraz was also working hard to ensure that there was adequate mobile network coverage in all wards in Zimbabwe.

“The Universal Services Fund, whose objective is to provide universal access to quality postal and telecommunications services to all Zimbabwean citizens, is funding establishment of cellular base stations that will be shared by all operators throughout the country,” Machengete said.

“To date 20 shared base stations have been constructed by Potraz.

“Five of them were constructed in 2018 courtesy of the equipment that was donated by Huawei of China. Potraz has also agreed with mobile network operators (MNOs) to fund the construction of 15 base stations in underserved areas under the build transfer and operate arrangement.

“This development should see identified areas without sufficient network coverage being catered for.”

State security minister and Gokwe Kana MP, Owen Ncube and several government officials attended the Manoti CVIC launch where thousands of villagers were entertained by popular sungura musician, Sulumani Chimbetu.

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