Digital gap alienating Zim rural communities

In remote rural areas of Zimbabwe, where access to basic amenities is a serious challenge, lack of reliable electricity and internet connectivity is further hampering access to technology.

IN Zimbabwe’s rural communities, the digital divide is a major challenge, with many communities lacking such infrastructure as electricity and internet connectivity to access digital technologies.

This means that many rural communities are being left behind in the digital revolution, unable to access the opportunities that it brings.

This can have a significant impact on their economic development, education and social inclusion.

The digital divide also has cultural implications, as it can lead to a loss of traditional knowledge and skills.

In today’s rapidly advancing digital era, access to technology has become an essential prerequisite for economic growth, social progress and global connectivity.

However, while urban areas in Zimbabwe are fast embracing the digital revolution, rural communities are still struggling to bridge the digital divide.

In remote rural areas of Zimbabwe, where access to basic amenities is a serious challenge, lack of reliable electricity and internet connectivity is further hampering access to technology.

As a result, rural communities are cut off from vital resources such as educational opportunities, healthcare services and employment prospects.

Education is the cornerstone of development, yet the digital gap restricts access to quality education for rural children.

Inadequate resources, such as outdated textbooks and a lack of computer labs impede their ability to acquire crucial digital literacy skills.

This disparity in education perpetuates a cycle of poverty, limiting the prospects for the next generation in rural Zimbabwe.

Access to healthcare services is a fundamental right, but the digital gap widens the health divide in rural Zimbabwe.

Telemedicine, which has the potential to bring medical expertise to remote areas, remains out of reach due to poor connectivity.

Rural communities face difficulty in accessing timely medical advice, diagnosis and treatment, leading to increased health risks and preventable deaths.

The digital divide also hampers economic empowerment and entrepreneurship in rural communities. Lack of access to online markets and financial services prevents rural entrepreneurs from reaching larger customer bases and securing financial support.

Without the necessary digital tools, they are unable to tap into economic opportunities, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and widening the urban-rural income gap.

Zimbabwe should copy other countries which have adapted technologies and spread them in their rural communities, several countries have implemented various strategies to address the digital gap and improve digital inclusion.

South Korea

South Korea has made significant progress in bridging the digital divide through its “Smart Learning” initiative.

The government invested in providing high-speed internet connections to all schools and implemented digital education programmes.

Additionally, it established “Smart Learning Centres” in rural areas, equipped with technology and educational resources to enhance digital literacy and educational opportunities for students in remote regions.


Kenya has achieved remarkable progress in bridging the digital divide through innovative approaches such as the “Digital Village” model.

This model involves setting up community-owned and managed telecentres that provide internet access, computer training and other digital services to rural communities.

The government, in partnership with private organisations, has supported the establishment of these telecentres, enabling access to information, education and economic opportunities.


Uruguay’s “Plan Ceibal” is a pioneering initiative that aims to provide every child in the country with a laptop and internet connectivity. The programme has successfully distributed laptops to students in both urban and rural areas, ensuring access to digital resources and educational opportunities.

The initiative also includes teacher training programmes to enhance digital literacy and pedagogical practices.

These examples highlight the diverse approaches taken by different countries to bridge the digital gap in rural communities.

These strategies often involve a combination of infrastructural development, digital literacy programmes, community engagement, public-private partnerships and supportive policies.

By learning from the experiences of these countries, Zimbabwe can develop tailored strategies that suit its unique context and effectively address the digital divide in its rural communities.

Comprehensive strategy

Zimbabwe should develop a comprehensive and well-co-ordinated strategy that encompasses infrastructural development, digital literacy programmes, community engagement, and supportive policies.

By taking a holistic approach, the government can ensure that various aspects of digital inclusion are addressed systematically.

Public-private partnerships

Collaborating with private companies, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies can provide additional expertise, resources, and funding. By leveraging the strengths and resources of multiple stakeholders, Zimbabwe can accelerate progress in bridging the digital divide and ensure sustainability.

Infrastructural development:

Prioritise the expansion of broadband connectivity and reliable electricity infrastructure in rural areas.

This includes investing in telecommunications towers, fiber-optic cables and renewable energy solutions like solar power.

Learning from the experiences of countries like South Korea and Estonia can guide Zimbabwe in developing and implementing effective infrastructural development plans.

Digital literacy programmes

Implement digital literacy programmes that target both students and adults in rural areas.

These programmes should focus on building basic digital skills, such as internet usage, online safety and digital communication.

Lessons can be drawn from India’s digital literacy initiatives to design effective training programmes that cater to Zimbabwe’s specific needs.

Community engagement and ownership

Involve local communities in the planning, implementation and management of digital inclusion initiatives.

Encourage community ownership by establishing community internet centres or telecentres.

These centres can act as hubs for digital access, education and entrepreneurship, like the models implemented in Kenya and Uruguay.

Adaptation to local context

While learning from other countries' experiences, it is crucial to adapt strategies to Zimbabwe’s specific context, considering cultural, social and economic factors.

Tailoring approaches to the unique needs of rural communities will enhance the effectiveness and relevance of digital inclusion initiatives.

By drawing lessons from successful examples around the world and tailoring strategies to its specific context, Zimbabwe can make significant progress in bridging the digital divide in its rural communities, fostering inclusive development and empowering its citizens.

  • Gary Gerald Mtombeni is a journalist and digital media activist. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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