The Digital world is rapidly transforming and is reaching a level where the use of the Internet (loT) is becoming a necessity. Nowadays, be it banking, booking a bus ticket, buying and selling, it’s now done using the Internet. The Government of Zimbabwe has embarked on a journey to make every citizen ICT literate. Last year, due to the emerging new economic revolution, the Ministry of Education introduced a system in which a parent/guardian can apply for Form 1 place at least at 5 schools online. Hence through the Ministry of ICT and Cybersecurity together with the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) introduced Community Information Centres (CICs) which are meant to promote the use of digital technologies thus Internet and Computers.
With a $1, 00 per hour charged to users in urban areas and fifty cents ($0.50) per hour in rural and remote areas. Potraz stated that the facilities that make up a Community Information Centre (CIC) are:
- Renovated or constructed building.
- Furniture for the housing of computers, server and other equipment.
- Internet connectivity through Optic Fibre or VSAT which is then accessed via cabled LAN and Wi-Fi.
- 10- to 32 Computers Per CIC depending on the Size of each CIC.
- A minimum of twelve (12) computers for the training room including a projector and whiteboard.
- Printing, scanning and fax facilities.
- Gaming facilities Play station, ancillary equipment and related screens for children to learn decision-making skills.
The program started early November 2016 and these facilities are now installed in all 10 provinces in the country. ZimPost is the one implementing the programme and they are hoping to install at least 210 Centres across the country. According to Eng. S M Kundishora, Chief Executive Officer, Zimbabwe Academic and Research Network, in his presentation titled “The Role of Information and Communication Technology ICT) in Enhancing Local Economic Development and Poverty Reduction”, stated that “African countries are now aware of the benefits derived from adoption and use of ICTs”. He further mentioned that all challenges were going to the addressed and expressed satisfaction that the Government is taking a positive role when making anyone to have a High ICT Literacy.
“e-Government must be customer driven and services oriented, meeting the needs of citizens and improving the quality of life. Ensuring the availability of minimum supply of ICT infrastructure”, he added.
The main reason for this CICs is to ensure that the rural dwellers and the underprivileged are also included in the digital world. This is a global demand in the declaration of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Governments, particularly those in the developing world are thus challenged to facilitate the provision of rural ICT access centres to become centres of learning and assist in bridging the digital divide between rural and urban communities. The key to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is widening access to and improving the quality of education and Life at all levels in the country which continues to be recognised as a key priority area.
In Africa, Ghana was one of the first countries to do such implementation of CICs in 2004. From the information provided by internetworldstats as of 2000 – 2017 Ghana had an Internet Growth of 33.0% and an Internet penetration of 34.7% whereas Zimbabwe has a growth of 13.34%. All in all, 388,376,491 were the estimated internet users in Africa by June 30, 2017.