BY BLESSED MHLANGA
GOVERNMENT has assured the public that its proposed Computer Crime and Cybercrime Bill, currently being drafted by the Attorney-General’s Office, will not infringe on access to information.
Speaking on the sidelines of the International Telecommunications Union Standardisation sector (ITU-T) conference in Victoria Falls yesterday, ICT minister Kazembe Kazembe said government had no intention of curtailing freedoms, but was moving to ensure that Zimbabwe catches up with other global players in technological advancement.
“The legislation is an enabling instrument to ensure that everyone has access to internet and mobile coverage. It has nothing to do with taking away of freedoms. But we know that if social media is used wrongly, it can destroy nations. So we would want laws that make people accountable,” he said.
There are fears that government could use the proposed Bill to shut down dissenting voices.
Kazembe dispelled the fears, saying government was investing heavily in ICTs to ensure access for all.
“In this digital era that we live in, our main preoccupation should be to ensure that every citizen of the world, no matter their level of income, no matter their level of education, is afforded decent internet and broadband connectivity,” he said.
Given the wide gap in technologies between developing and developed countries, Kazembe said this needed to be plugged to ensure nobody is left
“The first step is by ensuring that developing countries play an active role in the development of standards for future networks. We must urgently address the standardisation gap between developed and developing world,” he said.
Through a loan from the China Export and Import Bank, government has managed to open an optic fibre gateway linking Harare and Beitbridge, which will officially be commissioned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa tomorrow.
The gateway will significantly reduce the cost of internet by up to 40%, increase speeds and connectivity while offering access to the rest of the region.
“That project, undertaken by TelOne, will reduce cost of the internet to the carrier of carriers by up to 40% and this will transfer to consumers,” he said.
Government has a 100-day plan which will see it roll out another optic fibre connection from Makuti to Chirundu to complete the communications backbone as Zimbabwe places itself on the technologies map.
The ongoing ITU-T conference, a gathering of international technology giants under the United Nations, is looking to develop future solutions to the fast-paced industry.
ITU-T study group 13 chairperson Leo Lehman said part of the solutions included building trust in the technology sector in the wake of leaked data and privacy breaches.