ICT on track: PM

Despite the recent efforts by members of Zanu (PF) to control information technology systems, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai expressed confidence in the sector and said telecommunication usage was on the increase.

Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai

The ICT penetration rate has risen to 63 percent for mobile, up from 13 percent in 2008, 15 percent for internet, and three percent for fixed telephony. This reflects improved access and usage of telecommunication services in Zimbabwe.

"Information is power, that is why autocratic regimes control the tools of communication. They seek to control, monitor and keep the people excluded from circles of knowledge," Tsvangirai told an ICT Achievers Awards ceremony on Saturday evening.

"They fight communication channels, devise policies that are retrogressive in nature that seek to inhibit information gathering, but beef up their own centres of information, which they control," he added.

Zanu (PF) Communications Minister Nicholas Goche recently refused to okay the Blackberry messenger service which was used to coordinate the Arab Spring revolution in North Africa. Zanu (PF) has also taken spying operations away from ICT minister Nelson Chamisa's portfolio and handed it to Goche.

However, Tsvangirai said the government was making steady progress, and had managed lay fibre optic cables from Harare to Mutare, through the Forbes Border Post to connect to the undersea cables via Mozambique.

"Currently the cable is being laid between Harare and Bulawayo and it is expected that the connection will have reached Bulawayo by the first quarter of 2012," he said.

"The e-government framework has since been developed. The aim behind this is to provide government services electronically and thereby reduce the time citizens are spending in queues. "

The latest ICT development index published by the International Telecommunications Union shows that Zimbabwe has moved up four places in terms of information and communication technology access and usage.

To fast track the growth of the ICTs sector, Tsvangirai said the government was finalising the ICT Bill.

"The draft Bill is before Cabinet and I want to ensure that it is finalised urgently so that Zimbabwe is not held back from development. The ICT Bill is long overdue," he said.

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