By Shingirai Vambe
MUROMBEDZI Business Centre in Mashonaland West was a hive of activity yesterday as mobile operators, students and the elderly commemorated the World Telecommunications and Information Society day. The event was organized by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ).
POTRAZ Director General, Gift Machengete said this year’s commemorations were running under the theme, “Digital Technologies for Older Persons and Health Aging.” Thus the regulatory authority was in a drive to go an extra mile and incorporate the elderly in the digital technologies, thereby leaving no one behind.
“POTRAZ will, from this year going forward, visit and equip old people’s homes, rural areas and the disadvantaged to bridge the urban and rural gap that has been set by infrastructure development.
The Authority has been holding Hackathon competitions, targeting young innovators who have since created system software that can accommodate the marginalized constituency of the elderly with agricultural and business programmes software.
With the support of 4 telecommunications operators, Econet, NetOne, TelOne and Telecel, it is possible, we can do it,” he said.
The four operators have provided service across the country and closed the information gap in marginalized areas, showing growth and complementing the education and business sector which was seriously affected since the inception of Covid-19 in 2020.
POTRAZ donated 60 laptops which saw the Minister of Information and Communication technology, Jenfan Muswere and Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka officially handing over computers to Murombedzi Secondary and Primary School.
Mliswa said it was an honour for the province to host such an ostentatious event at a time when a majority are thriving to move along and embrace technology.
“This is Mash best, not West, best things are coming to this province through the leadership of our President Emmerson Mnangagwa and participation of Citizens in building the Upper Middle Economy by 2030,” Mliswa said.
Muswere said since 1969 when the day was set, people with the age of 60 and above should not be left behind in the digital economy which resonates well with the government’s agenda of living no one and place behind.
“The ministry has embarked on an initiative to introduce ICT to all areas in Zimbabwe which are marginalized, remote and have no mobile network coverage let alone internet access, such areas like Hurungwe, Myakomba, Mlambapele, Thuli, Mola, Mudzi to name just a few.
As Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Service, we are endeavoring towards making sure there is availability of ICT infrastructure throughout the country to help provide internet connectivity by rolling out various programmes and projects like the ICT lab per school project which speaks to connect a school, connect a community, drive and various community information centres in many rural districts, growth points and service centres across Zimbabwe,” Muswere said.
Due to global economic crisis, Zimbabwe hasn’t been spared, the cost of data has always been an issue, and at this gathering school children and the elderly pleaded with the operators and the ministry to see how best they can access affordable data and connectivity in the rural areas.
Commenting on the occasion, local chiefs said, despite health challenges, it is advisable to at least talk to someone, laugh over something on Whatsapp and stay updated with current affairs for a health living.
Legendary musician, Orchestra Mberi Kwazvo band leader Alick Macheso, ‘AKA Baba Sharo’ who was hired to perform on the day, told Post On Sunday that, if there were three or more organizations like POTRAZ, the country would go a long way in recognizing the well being of the elderly people and vulnerable citizens in Zimbabwe.
POTRAZ donated food hampers and blankets to more than 100 elderly people of Mashonaland West Province of the age of 60 years and above.
Macheso performed till late and the whole growth point was on fire.
The day was worth commemorating as the digital space in Murombedzi took a right turn for the better, with the world at a click.