ZIMBABWE is making strides to close the digital divide between the country and the developed world by providing Internet access to marginalised areas, an official has said.
Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general Gift Machengete yesterday said government is making use of funds from the Universal Services Fund (USF) to create centres which improve learning, and advance people's livelihood.
"Considering that broadband connectivity has a positive correlation with gross domestic product growth, government has put internet access and use high on its development agenda," Machengete said during the official handover of Masvingo High School computer laboratory.
According to the International Telecommunications Union, Internet penetration is less than 50 percent in developing countries, which account for over one billion people who are unconnected.
Machengete noted that the computer science laboratory, which was constructed in partnership with the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), is furnished with modern computers that are connected to the Internet.
"It will provide basic electronic services such as Internet surfing, research, electronic mail service, printing, scanning, photocopying and document binding," he added.
The Potraz boss implored learners to make full use of the laboratory and further urged them to take good care of the facility.
"Do not vandalise the equipment or allow it to be vandalised. Guard your laboratory jealously as it is your gateway to sustainable community development and personal advancement. I also implore you to use the Internet responsibly, for your good, as technology has its own negative impact," Machengete said.
Potraz has over the past few years used USF to establish a passive infrastructure for geographical network expansion scheme, which involved the construction of three additional base station sites to extend the geographical coverage of mobile services to rural areas.
The regulator also recently embarked on an Internet protocol microwave project involving the provision of microwave radios for backhauling traffic generated at the above established terminal stations to core networks.
Another scheme undertaken by Potraz under the USF was a telemedicine scheme which was earmarked for completion in 2017 but could not be completed due to the delays at the ITU in awarding the tender for the supply of Telemedicine Transportable Examination Station kits and foreign currency shortages. Meanwhile, a ZNA official, Paul Chima, said the computer laboratory will not only assist students through improved research, but will also help teachers with knowledge.
"I am optimistic that the school will be a centre for research benefitting both the students and teachers. The leadership and problem-solving skills derived from e-learning will benefit the students after leaving school," he said.