BY OBEY MANAYITI
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) minister Kazembe Kazembe yesterday said the digital transformation and increased use of ICTs being experienced in urban areas must also cascade to rural areas, so as to enhance the lives of people living there.
Kazembe made the remarks during the official opening of the Charandura Community information Centre (CIC), spearheaded by the Postal Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe
(Potraz) in Chirumanzu, where he also spoke strongly against the abuse of social media.
He said there was no reason why rural areas must lag behind in terms of digital infrastructure.
“When we talk of ICTs, there is infrastructure, accessibility and capability. This is what we are working towards,” Kazembe said.
“Access is not only for those in towns, but those in rural areas as well. They need connectivity.”
He said gone were the days when essential services were a prerogative for those in urban areas.
Kazembe said government had plans to ensure that infrastructure in rural areas is transformed so that ICTs help uplift people’s livelihoods.
He said ICTs could be used in various areas such as precision farming and e-health, among others.
“There is nothing that we can do without ICTs. With this information centre, it is no longer necessary to travel to Harare or Bulawayo to access latest infrastructure as that can now be accessed at this CIC,” he said
Kazembe said the idea behind distributing digital infrastructure across the country resonated well with government’s Vision 2030.
Turning to the abuse of social media, Kazembe bemoaned that some people were increasingly finding joy in creating and disseminating fake news, causing unnecessary panic and despondency.
He gave examples of fake condolences that can be created and circulated on social media and another of the netball team allegedly travelling to Liverpool with an unreasonable high
number of government officials.
Such misuse of the social media has also come at a time when unscrupulous people were creating and spreading fake news regarding the health of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
He also called for the speedy enactment of the Cyber Protection Bill to fight social media abuse.
Potraz director-general Gift Machengete said they were doing quite a lot to improve infrastructure in the country, including rural areas, in terms of base stations and CICs.
He said the Chapandira CIC was the 14th in the Midlands province.
Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Larry Mavhima thanked government for the initiative to take on board rural areas in terms of digital development.
“This is a very advanced and modern facility. This is being done by the government to uplift people’s lives in rural areas. This is a very good example of devolution, and this will help
cut costs for people who might have travelled to and from places in other urban centres,” he said.
Potraz also held a consumer education and awareness campaign meant to educate the consumers on their basic rights to usage of postal and telecommunication services.
The regulatory body’s consumer affairs manager Phibion Chaibva said they were taking the opportunity to empower consumers.
“With the ever expansion of ICT services in Zimbabwe, more and more consumers are adopting to the usage of ICTs and those consumers are vulnerable to service providers,” Chaibva said.
“Potraz is there to make people empowered by imparting consumer knowledge so that they exercise their consumer rights wherever and whenever they feel their rights have been infringed
on. They are also being educated on grievance procedures and they must first resolve their consumer issues with their service providers and if they still feel aggrieved, they must appeal to Potraz.”