POTRAZ to widen internet access, digital literacy in rural communities

 POTRAZ Director General Gift Machengete has revealed that his institution is intensifying efforts of widening internet access and digital literacy to rural communities through rolling out various ICT access and use programmes.

Machengete was responding to questions asked by delegates attending the  World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) High Level Discussion Forum in Geneva this week.

“In Zimbabwe, as the regulator we are running an e-learning and schools connectivity programme where to date, it has distributed 4823 computers, 30 servers and 90 printers to 323 rural schools, while a total of 750 schools have been connected.

“ To cater for community members who are out of school, the regulator has set up 145 Community Information Centres and  24 Containerised Village Information Centres. Over 10500 people have been trained at these centres, countrywide, since October last year,” he said.

Machengete added that they also included the disabled in their beneficiaries bracket.

“ To cater for the disabled, the regulator availed customised computer hardware and software to 6 institutions housing people living with disabilities.

“I am glad to say that, Zimbabwe won a grant from the ITU  to set up a regional IXP and that project is already up and running with numerous local organisations already peering on it,” he added.

The regulator has been consistently lobbying government to remove or lower excise duty on ICT gadgets especially smartphones. This will improve ICT access and use by the rural communities.

Meanwhile, a group of six Zimbabwean students won the best creative idea at the same event and ICT minister Kazembe Kazembe took to his Twitter to congratulate them.

Apart from Machengete, the high powered Zimbabwean delegation is made up of the ICT minister Kazembe Kazembe,  permanent secretary Samuel Kundishora and POTRAZ head of consumer affairs and publicity George Munyaradzi Manyaya.