'Universal access to ICT Potraz's key objective'

HARARE - Universalising telecommunication services in Zimbabwe is one of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz)’s key objectives, a senior official of the organisation said last Friday.

In a paper presented during a media discussion forum in Kadoma on Friday, manager of the Universal Service Fund within Potraz, Hasha Myambo said the organisation had assisted with the rolling out of an e-learning project covering 60 schools in rural areas around Zimbabwe.

“The purpose of the project is to increase computer literacy and to improve the pass rate in rural schools by providing; ICT gadgets and software, Internet connectivity, training of teachers on the use of the gadgets and power supply among others.”

Under the programme, Myambo said the Fund has provided 80 student laptops and 10 teacher laptops, digital curriculum content covering Grade One – Form Six, two mobile carts, two storage/ charging bays, wireless LAN components (switches, routers and servers), two 3kW solar system and power supply, 80 student desks and chairs two tutor desks and chairs, two projectors and projector screens, a printer as well as learning management system and training per school.

Myambo said that the USF has several sources of funds that include the “1,5 percent levy on the gross income of all licensed operators, funds surplus to the Authority at end of financial year, monies appropriated by Act of Parliament for the Fund’s purpose and any other monies to which the Fund may be lawfully entitled.”

He added that besides the Connect a school Connect a community programme under which e-learning falls and the setting up of Community Information Centres, the Fund has also has carried out several projects under the following programmes;  passive infrastructure provision, ICTs for people with disabilities and special needs, telemedicine and extension of postal and courier services to rural areas.

“Passive infrastructure refers to non-active facilities provided at a telecommunications site to support the provision of ICT services to the surrounding areas of the site, for example, PV modules, tower, diesel generators, power back-up batteries, access roads, perimeter fence etc.

“Passive infrastructure can cost upwards of 60 percent of total site cost for a base station and is a pre-requisite for access to ICT services and applications.”

Myambo said the Fund had constructed 15 base stations across the country to date.

 

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