HARARE – The Postal and Telecommunications Regulator of Zimbabwe (Potraz) said it has trained over 8 000 people in information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the last six months.
Potraz director general Gift Machengete said evidence from other countries show that ICTs can contribute immensely to the national gross domestic product and the ICT sector, acting as an enabler, can result in improved market competitiveness of a nation’s products and services.
“Our mandate is to take ICTs to the people as everything in today’s world resonates around the evolving information technology sector,” he told journalists during a tour of the Community Information Centre in Chinhoyi on Saturday.
“Over the past few months we have trained 8 114 people across the country, with 800 people having been trained here in Chinhoyi.”
Potraz has so far unveiled more than 80 centres, with user-friendly facilities including machines for the visually impaired, in the country’s ten districts and plans are underway to establish more.
“People are being trained in basic computer skills and we also have other ICT courses to enable people to participate meaningfully in the economy,” Machengete said.
The Potraz boss noted that the overall aim of the establishment of the community information centres is to achieve equity of access to information, thereby bridging the digital divide between urban and rural communities.
“ICTs can avail information relevant for agricultural production, processing, marketing, transport and food storage, education, healthcare, disease control as well as environmental management,” he said.
“One major problem facing rural communities in Zimbabwe, and Africa in general is the limited access to relevant and current information about health, education, economy, transport, agriculture and market access. Without information, the rural communities are hampered from fully participating in national development,” Machengete said.
The ICT sector has grown significantly in the past decade with its contribution to gross domestic product surpassing many industries.
Industry experts assert that ICTs provide an opportunity for nations to address the digital divide and reduce poverty while registering economic growth.
ICTs can impact positively on governance and other sectors of the economy. In turn ICT can effectively assist international economic integration, improve living standards, narrow the digital divide, and improve biodiversity utilisation and management.
The digital divide characterised by highly unequal access to and use of ICT and manifests itself both at the international and domestic levels needs to be addressed by national policy makers.
Research has shown that the digital divide can be narrowed and poverty reduction addressed through effective and focused utilisation of ICTs in key sectors such as education, industry and agriculture.