Business Reporter

THE Minister of Information Communication Technology (ICT) Postal and Courier Services, Dr Jenfan Muswere, today officially launched the Maphisa Community Information Centre in Matobo District as part of Governemnt efforts to empower marginalised communities to have access and use of ICTs to improve livelihoods.

In addition to research and other services, the facility is also expected to play a key role in the provision of reliable and evidence-based information on Covid-19 at a time when misinformation has become a global concern.

The Maphisa CIC is furnished with modern computers that are connected to the internet.

The facility is one of the eight operational CICs out of 12 in Matabeleland South and 146 countrywide providing basic electronic services such as internet surfing, electronic mail service, printing, scanning, photocopying and document binding for community convenience.

“Access to ICTs and effective participation in the digital economy is critical in improving the quality of life for all the citizens of Zimbabwe. It is our wish as Government for all citizens of Zimbabwe to have access to broadband connectivity, including those in rural and low-income communities,” said Dr Muswere in his address.

“We are, therefore, making every effort to ensure the ubiquitous availability of ICTs throughout the country in order to enable those in the remote rural areas to participate in the digital economy and to increase their overall economic well-being, competitiveness, digital inclusion, poverty reduction and improved health and education.”

The growth of the telecommunications sector is one of Zimbabwe’s modern success stories. Since 2008 the country has seen the mobile penetration rate rising to 94.2 percent, from the 10.4 percent, according to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

Internet penetration rate has also been consistently growing over the years and currently stands at 59.1 percent up from the 1.3 percent recorded in 2008. The same growth trajectory has also been witnessed in the deployment of infrastructure with a total of 6 863 base station sites having been constructed countrywide by the different mobile network operators and the Universal Services Fund.

Dr Muswere reiterated Government’s commitment to the attainment of a digital economy and a knowledge society through supporting ICT investments and innovation. He commended Potraz for its thrust towards bridging the digital divide through the different programmes such as CICs aimed at ensuring that communities  in remote rural areas have access to ICTs.

The minister also handed over  a donation of five laptops and 15 laptop bags each to four local primary schools while Tongwe Secondary received 10 laptops and 15 laptop bags.

Speaking on behalf of Potraz director general, Dr Gift Machengete, the deputy director Mr Alfred Marisa, explained how the CICs concept was created to empower communities to have access and use ICTs to promote their businesses, advance their education and improve their livelihood.

He also urged adherence to recommended Covid-19 health guidelines while using the facility. In his remarks Matabeleland South Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Cde Abednico Ncube, paid tribute to Potraz and the Ministry of ICTs for facilitating digital infrastructure development saying  facilities such as CICs will go a long way in transforming community livelihoods in line with the Government’s devolution agenda.

He stressed the need to scale up mobile and internet connectivity projects in the province’s border districts such as Magwe, Matobo, Gwanda and Beitbridge as well as improving ICT services in rural schools for learning of science subjects. Local MP, Edgar Moyo, who is also Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education said the launch was significant in driving mod3rn

Deputy Minister of ICT, Dingumuzi Phuthi, Ministry Secretary, Dr Engineer Sam Kundishora, senior Government officials and traditional leaders attended the event.