NEARLY 100 Community Information Centres are in operation in the country after the Government identified Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) as an important economic development catalyst.
Addressing thousands of villagers in Chirumhanzu on Thursday at the official launch of the Charandura Community Information Centre set up by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), Information Communication Technology Postal and Courier Services Minister Kazembe Kazembe said both rural and urban areas must benefit from ICTs.
"Charandura Community Information Centre is one of the 146 Community Information Centres set-up throughout the country. I have been informed that 98 of the community information centres are already operating," said Minister Kazembe.
He said 38 centres will provide free training in the use of computers to members of the community.
Minister Kazembe said efforts were underway to ensure that all the remaining Community Information Centres are operational before the end of the year. He said Government had identified ICTs as one of the pillars and cornerstones for economic development.
"It is therefore our endeavour as Government to make sure that every person in Zimbabwe has access to ICTs and has the basic ICT literacy. From a policy perspective, community information centres are crucial in empowering the people of Zimbabwe. Access to ICTs and effective participation in the digital economy is critical in improving the quality of life for all citizens," he said.
Minister Kazembe said efficient and affordable ICT infrastructure and services allow countries to participate in the digital economy and to increase their overall economic well-being, competitiveness, digital inclusion, poverty reduction and improved health.
"As we launch this CIC today, we should keep in mind that knowledge in the use of ICTs is now a basic need and an essential skill for productivity. Research and Development in the use of ICTs is key and, in this respect, the Government has taken the necessary steps to facilitate Research and Development, through establishment of these centre in order to come up with home grown solutions," said the Minister.
He said the objective behind the establishment of the information centres was to enable communities to access and use ICTs to promote their businesses, advance their education and improve their livelihood.
The Charandura information centre is furnished with modern computers that are connected to the internet. It will provide basic electronic services such as Internet surfing, electronic mail service, printing, scanning, photocopying and document binding.
Minister Kazembe said 14 information centres have been established in the Midlands province and all are operational. He said POTRAZ was also working on the deployment of 24 Containerised Village Information Centres (CVICs) which are set to address ICT needs for people living in areas where conventional information centres could not be established at Post Offices.
He said containerised information centres are temporary structures which can be moved from one area to another if the need arises.