Covid-19: Wake up call for ICT departments

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HARRY PETER WILSON – THE coronavirus outbreak is a wake-up call to our government’s ICT departments that as a nation we need to initiate and promote digitalisation across all sectors; industry, education, Parliament and Cabinet.

Many companies have already curbed travel and asked nonessential employees to work from home, an eventuality that can only be successful if we are digital; computers at home; Internet connection at our homes.

By now company executives and management should have taken their employees through processes of video conferencing; hence holding crucial meetings at various workstations away from the office.

In the event of Zimbabwe locking down, we need crucial government departments that include security, health, information and finance to continue interacting with each other but this can only happen digitally.

Managers should be able to continuously check their employees even while they are working from home to see if they have any symptoms brewing or have gotten sick since leaving the office.

Schools have also shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic and we are not sure when they can reopen once again, hence talk of online learning.

This will need a lot on investment from government in terms of computers, training of teachers and formulation of online teaching modules.
It reminds me of the late president Robert Mugabe’s efforts to equip rural schools with computers.

While others scoffed at this noble initiative, his vision was not very far off when we look at how important online learning is in today’s coronavirus crisis.

Government also needs to facilitate so that computers are affordable even to school children as these are vital when it comes to online education. Teachers have also to go through online teaching processes so they are able to conduct lessons when need be.

Equally, we should expect our Members of Parliament to lead by example by working online from home.
This is a crucial time as they have to formulate policies and vote for the much needed budgets in the fight against coronavirus.

As it stands we are told that Parliament has adjourned and the legislators have gone home yet this is the time they should be busy; digitalisation is the way to go.

They should be able to conference online and debate crisis issues.
Cabinet and politburo should not stop operating as they can also easily work from home and online.

We cannot afford to completely shut down government; we need services from these crucial departments in this hour of need; these entities have to be leading us.

In neighbouring South Africa we have the president there working from home; but that has to be managed well with all key ministers and government officials available online; they should be fully equipped.

What’s more, if employees are not able to work from home, companies need to re-adjust workplaces for social distancing.

Desks will likely need to be moved and areas that people touch need to be cleaned multiple times a day.
Increased cleaning of all high touched surfaces is a bigger issue in jobs that have equipment or machines they work with.

Also, companies need to close all break rooms and cafeterias. Employees will now need to eat spread out at least six feet apart.

Wilson is DOP President

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