The National Development Strategy (NDS1) with its emphasis on the Digital Economy as one of the fourteen national priorities for the period 2021–2025 is in sync with driving economic growth, Dr. Jenfan Muswere, the Minister of Information Communication Technology (ICT), Postal and Courier Services has said.
He made the remarks at the official launch of the Filabusi Community Information Centre in Matebeleland South on 21 December 2020.
“This economic blueprint, which provides a roadmap in our journey “Towards a prosperous and empowered Upper-Middle Income society by 2030”, is anchored on a digitally enabled economy. The inclusion of the digital economy in this important economic blueprint bears testimony to our commitment as government, to take advantage of ICTs and other emerging technologies to transform the lives of the general populace in our country,” Minister Muswere said.
He warned that the digital economy and knowledge society that is being created should not be the preserve of those in urban areas alone, but should permeate throughout the whole country, including remote areas like Filabusi.
“I cannot, therefore, overemphasise the need for us as Government to continue providing a conducive environment for the growth of the telecommunications sector, so as to continue increasing our Internet penetration.
“It was, therefore, gratifying to hear the POTRAZ Director General announcing, in his Third Quarter Sector Performance Report, that Internet penetration rose by 3.2% to reach 59.9% from the 56.7% recorded in the second quarter of this year. It is important for the country to maintain this growth trajectory so that no one is left behind in the digital economy,” Minister Muswere added.
Community information centres are part of the equation as they provide an affordable alternative for underserved communities to participate in the information age.
Dr. Gift Machengete, the Director-General of the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) paid tribute to the government for identifying ICTs as one of the pillars and cornerstones for economic development under the recently launched National Development Strategy One (NDS1).
“In this regard, not only will this launch immensely contribute to the attainment of NDS1 goals but it will invariably change the lives of the people in this community.
“This is because ICTs are crucial in empowering people as well as improving business efficiency and profitability. Access to ICTs and effective participation in the digital economy is also critical in improving the quality of life for all. It is, therefore our endeavour, as POTRAZ, to ensure that every person in Zimbabwe has access to ICTs and has basic ICT literacy,” Dr Machengete said.
He added that POTRAZ has the responsibility to ensure that communities have access to basic ICT infrastructure.
“We have a mandate to ensure that no one is left behind in the information highway. This is why the Authority, together with the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services found it necessary to roll out Community Information Centres (CICs) – a programme that has scored huge successes in terms of provision of advancing ICT Access and Use in marginalised communities and enhancing digital literacy skills among the people.”