- Zim’s first ICT factory opens
- Desktop computers and tablets to be manufactured locally
- Government walks the talk in line with its online learning initiative
The Zimbabwe Information Technology Company (ZITCO), the first ICT assembly plant was officially opened on the 25th of March with the thrust of assembling ICT-orientated equipment such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets.
The Harare based ICT factory is a joint venture with an Internet Service Providers (ISP) TelOne, Chinese company Inspur and a Government-owned entity Flushcord Enterprises is in line with Government’s online learning initiative which seeks to increase the usage of ICT in the entire education sector regardless of geographical location or economic circumstances.
TelOne managing director Mrs Chipo Mtasa said the assembly plant had already started operating with the first run of 2 500 desktop computers and laptops having already been made.
According to the press statement delivered from the ministry of ICT delivered by minister Jenfran Muswere on 15 March, Zimbabwe wants to connect 1500 schools to the internet by the end of 2021 and the acquisition of standard gadgets such as desktop computers and laptops is one of its key enablers after the first enabler which is the expansion and upgrading of broadband infrustructure.
Speaking at World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum minister Muswere said “To this end, 13 more Telecommunication tower sites are to be constructed, Expand and optimise the mobile network by setting up 1187 sites for the deployment of 2G,3G,4G and 5G services all in 2021”.
These targets seem too ambitious for the government. Over the course of its history, Zimbabwe has accumulated up to 4,965 2G, 2,126 3G and 1,086 4G base stations and now wants to set up 1187 of them within a year. It should be noted that we should be looking to invest more into the faster 4G broadband and even 5G
However, even if the government manages to fulfil these promises, it would be for nothing without the necessary equipment. Having these gadgets manufactured locally means the government can acquire them at a lower cost.
Furthermore, even if the government connects every school to broadband, there is still the issue of students staying connected whilst at home. 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 causing a digital divide between students as witnessed during covid 19 induced restrictions.