- Zimbabwe to digitalize learning
- National e-learning strategy for schools
- Satelite based broadband can bring connectivity to remote areas.
According to a press statement delivered by the Minister of ICT Jenfan Muswere, Zimbabwe is set to connect 1500 schools to the internet by 2030 as part of the national e-learning strategy for schools.
”SMART Education is one component of SMART Zimbabwe, which seeks to increase the usage of ICT in the entire education sector regardless of geographical location or economic circumstances,” said Minister Muswere.
As part of the online learning initiative, the upgrading and expansion of broadband infrastructure are pivotal especially in rural areas where the digital penetration rate is low and internet connectivity can be hard to come by because of low coverage by Internet service providers (ISP), unreliable broadband connectivity, and reduced speeds.
In efforts to bridge the digital divide, Early this month Telone partnered with Paris-based Global satellite operators Eutelsat to provide satellite-based high-quality broadband which can be accessed from anywhere across Zimbabwe. Despite its reduced speeds, satellite-based broadband is the ideal connectivity for schools in remote areas because of its ability to reach out to every part of the country and it is cheaper as compared to cable broadband.
Furthermore, the low coverage by Zimbabwe’s leading Internet access providers such as Liquid and Dundamutande is why there is a need for the adoption of satellite-based broadband for remote areas.
Apart from connecting schools to the internet, there is also a need for mobile broadband providers to focus their infrastructure development towards remote areas because the scholars will also need internet connectivity to access online learning platforms at home.
According to the recently released POTRAZ results, in the fourth quarter of 2020 mobile broadband operators made 35 more base stations with 21 being 3G and the rest LTE(4G) and from these infrastructure upgrades and developments, only Two 3G base stations and three LTE were deployed in rural areas. This shows the need for the telecoms companies to shift focus in their upgrades towards remote areas to promote the digital inclusion of everyone in Zimbabwe.
Mobile operators can alternatively join Telone in adding satellite-based broadband service to consumers in remote areas because it is cheaper and easy to establish.
Can the initiative be achieved?
The initiative can surely be achieved if the government works hand in hand with internet access providers in Zimbabwe to bridge the digital divide by upgrading and expanding broadband infrastructure into remote areas.
The fastest way to bring internet connectivity to the remotely located schools of Zimbabwe is by adopting satellite-based broadband (which knows no boundaries) considering how cheap and easy to establish it is eg Telone’s satellite-based internet service.
However, there is the issue of having devices that can access broadband, the majority of pupils in rural areas cannot afford to purchase the necessary gadgets such as smartphones and computers to access the online learning platforms