By Takemore Mazuruse
The Internet Society (ISOC) Zimbabwe, which is part of the global Internet Society (ISOC), was recently awarded gigabit status for its efforts in ensuring equal and affordable access to the internet as a tool for development and empowerment for all.
According to the organisation’s outgoing president Solomon Hopewell Kembo, the recognition comes on the back of various milestones reached by his committee.
“As a committee, we achieved various milestones among them getting elected into the ISOC Global Advisory Council Steering Committee, establishing community networks, hosting the Internet Engineering Task Force 105 (IETF) Viewing Hub, attending the Hackathon at the African Internet Summit 2019, being part of the Global Forum for Cyber Expertise, organising an internet research workshop, and getting funding for the Digital Citizen Upskilling for rural communities,” he said.
As all countries grapple with the effects of Covid-19, the world is fast going digital as one-on-one interaction has been condemned for fuelling transmission of the deadly virus. However, the digital divide between the haves and have-nots has revealed a big gap in terms of access to the internet as determined by a country’s level of development and individual social status and it is hoped that the Internet Society of Zimbabwe continues on the right path towards enhanced internet access for all.
Most businesses are now operating virtually and the internet has become a trusted vehicle for social engagements and business interactions. The local chapter of the global Internet Society, the Internet Society of Zimbabwe has urged all global citizens to embrace internet usage for their convenience and safety.
“The internet is a basic commodity, necessary for work, education and social interactions. This current Covid-19 situation increases the need for entities to work towards improving the internet for users,” said Jasper Mangwana, ISOC Zimbabwe president.
“The Internet Society promotes internet as a developmental tool to connect the unconnected. We are a global cause-driven organisation that is dedicated to ensuring that the internet stays open, transparent and defined by users. We are therefore encouraging governments, corporates and individuals to embrace this ideal.”
Mangwana said ISOC global was founded in 1992 while the Zimbabwe chapter was chartered in 2015.
“The organisation has been in existence since 1992 as the world embraced technology and internet usage. The work of the ISOC through its local chapters supports and promotes the development of the internet as a force for good and global technical infrastructure and resource to enrich life,” he said.
“We are, therefore, encouraging government and all concerned stakeholders to embrace the internet given the importance of technology in advancing development.
None should be left behind. Black or white, rich or poor, we must ensure unlimited and affordable access to the internet for all.”
Mangwana also told Standard Style that his new team was geared to build on the milestones of the outgoing leadership which made a distinct mark on the internet landscape in Zimbabwe.
“Our thrust is to build on the milestone of the recent past leadership, most of whose initiatives include the establishment of the Internet of Things (IoT) maker spaces at selected high schools in Harare. The pilot Maker Space was established at St Peter’s Mbare School,” he said.
“The project, which is the brainchild of Kembo, is part of the ISOC Global initiative dubbed Beyond the Net. The project later inspired the Mbare IoT farming project, an initiative that utilises decommissioned freight containers to grow plants and rear fish using internet technologies. The project won the National Science award and was selected to enter the Clean Technology Science Fair in New York.”
The new ISOC Zimbabwe executive extended its gratitude to the outgoing team led by Kembo, Nomsa Mwayenga (vice-president), and Simbarashe Machiridza (treasurer).
The incoming executive takes over at a difficult time when the world needs to invest in the internet for development during the coronavirus era. The incoming executive is led by Mangwana, Tawanda Maguze (vice-president), Nigel Muguza (secretary), Kudzai Mubaiwa (treasurer), Wadzanai Chihombori Ndlovu (head of internet governance and policy), Mukwasi (head of communication and events), Assumita Chiremba (head of membership) and Ntokozo Ncube (head of technology and infrastructure).
Chihombori Ndlovu, an information scientist by profession, is also the African representative in the chapter advisory board steering committee ISOC Global.