THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has through the Universal Services Fund connected 76 rural schools to the Internet in Matabeleland South province as it moves to improve access to new technologies and bridge the digital divide.
This comes as the organisation has in the past few years been on a massive nationwide drive to ensure universal access to information communication technologies (ICTs), which are largely viewed as the bedrock of economic growth and development.
Under Potraz’s initiative to connect schools to the Internet, a further 38 institutions in the province are earmarked to benefit from the programme.
“Furthermore, the authority, through the same fund, has distributed 540 laptops to six schools in the province under the connect a school, connect a community project.
“A further 428 laptops were also distributed to 49 schools from this province under the ongoing e-learning project,” Potraz director-general Gift Machengete told delegates during the launch of the Brunapeg village Information Centre in Mangwe yesterday.
“Even more, projects are in the pipeline as the authority makes full use of the Universal Services Fund to improve ICT access and use in rural and marginalised areas which were previously left behind.”
The government has so far constructed 13 community information centres in the province and Potraz has erected four shared base stations in the province’s Manana, Maitengwe and Mayobodo areas, which had connectivity challenges since independence.
“A staggering 1 542 people have been trained at three community information centres, which include Jahunda, Maphisa and Beitbridge,” Machengete said.
The Brunapeg centre became the fourth training facility in the province.
Meanwhile, ICT minister Jenfan Muswere said the government has enacted an enabling environment for both the public and private sector and investment organisations “to ensure we have telecommunications infrastructure and Internet connectivity”.
“This thrust by the government of Zimbabwe is seen in both public and private sector investing in this sector,” Muswere said.
“If we continue with this trajectory together, we can achieve our target of ensuring every person has safe and affordable access to the Internet by the year 2030 and this will ultimately contribute towards the attainment of the digital economy which is one of the priorities of the National Development Strategy 1,” he added.