By ZBC Reporter
ZIMBABWE is rallying other African nations to prioritise marginalised communities in Information Communication Technology (ICT) development as a means to close the digital gap that has become more pronounced in the COVID-19 pandemic era.
From e-education, e-shopping, e-worshipping and telemedicine among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic has made ICTs a necessity, rather than a luxury.
As a result, Zimbabwe, which recently assumed the chairmanship for the Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) is rallying other African nations to prioritise technology as a tool for development.
“Millions of people within our region are still unconnected, mostly those living in rural areas and remote communities, which is why bringing universal broadband connectivity is now an urgent necessity. Access is not simply a problem of connectivity, it is more a problem of affordability, having the relevant content in the local language, making people aware of the benefits and giving them the digital skills to take advantage of the connection. Issues to do with people living with disabilities also need to be addressed as we aim to universalise broadband,” said the Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Jenfan Muswere.
According to the incoming chairperson for CRASA, Dr Gift Machengete, one of the critical areas of focus for ICT development will be to scale up innovation hubs to enhance regional integration.
Infrastructure Sharing is another area where harmonised policies and regulations as well as sharing of experiences would go a long way in reducing costs of ICT infrastructure roll out in the region. On that same token of cost reduction, as a region we should also consider models such as Bulk Purchasing of broadband from international suppliers such that data is ultimately availed cheaper to the consumer,” said Dr Gift Machengete, Potraz Director General
Zimbabwe’s position at the helm of the regional ICT body comes as a massive boost to the country’s national broadband initiative.