Zim's ICT access, use improves

HARARE - Zimbabwe has improved in information communication technology (ICT) access and use, moving up four places to rank 115th out of 157 in the ICT Development Index (IDI) 2012.

New data from the 2013 edition of Measuring the Information Society (MIS) — by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) — revealed that the country also made significant progress on sub-indices of the IDI.

The IDI measures the level of ICT development in the world’s 157 economies and compares progress made during the previous year.

It combines 11 indicators into a single measure that can be used as a benchmarking tool globally, regionally, and at national level, as well as helping track progress in ICT development over time.

The index also evaluates ICT access, use and skills, and includes such indicators as mobile cellular subscriptions, households with a computer, Internet users, fixed and mobile broadband Internet subscriptions, and basic literacy rates.

“In both sub-indices, it is the mobile/wireless indicators where the most progress was made,” read part of the report.

Zimbabwe’s mobile cellular penetration went up from 72 percent in 2011 to 97 percent in 2012.

In the use sub-index, wireless-broadband penetration doubled from 15 to 30 percent over the same period.

As a result, the country attained the second-highest penetration rate in Africa, just after Ghana (34 percent).

In 2012, Zimbabwe’s three mobile operators undertook roll-out projects and increased coverage, especially in rural areas of the country.

At the same time, the country’s Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) started to set up base stations in the country’s underserved areas, funded through the Universal Services Fund (USF).

The report noted that apart from infrastructure projects, m-banking is gaining importance in Zimbabwe and increasing the popularity of mobile services.

“The country’s leading operator, Econet Wireless, started a mobile payment service — EcoCash — in 2011, which attracted 1,7 million customers in its first year and according to the company, is the region’s second most successful service after Kenya’s m-pesa,” said the report.

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