POSTAL Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has embarked on an ambitious project to train rural folks computer literacy in a bid to promote appreciation of new technologies at grassroots level.
The move is being championed through Community Information Centres which are still being set up in most parts of the country. Briefing Journalists in Kadoma recently, POTRAZ Director General, Dr Gift Machengete said they had already trained 8114 people last year and they were carrying out a pilot project of 24 containerised village information centers to ensure easy access of ICT in marginalised areas.
“People are actually being trained on basic computer skills so that they can tackle daily computing needs, but it does not end there. We have the basic, intermediate and the advanced stages depending on what the person’s level of computer skills is.
“When you look at our post offices, they are mainly in towns but in villages they are not there and for you to start building structures there, it might not be worth it. We have said in those areas where there is enough traffic to justify, we then put a containerised community information centre,” said Dr Machenegte.
Potraz also said the organisation has established 84 CICs sites countrywide but it was faced with financial challenges to fully refurbish buildings earmarked for the projects as well as sourcing computers.
In farming communities such as Chinhoyi, Dr Machengete said, CICs were crucial in providing knowledge on best agriculture practices, weather information from the internet while students from tertiary institutions use them to access information from digital libraries.
In remote areas, depending on demand, Potraz is using containers as the CICs. The same can be used as post offices. Within the next two months, 24 containerized CICs will be established across the country.
“We started with provincial CICs and now going to all the other post offices, we love to go to districts but right now we are targeting the existing post offices. In villages we put containers depending on the demand, that is if it warrants to have a CIC,” said Dr Machengete.