Muzarabani goes online

HARARE - One of Zimbabwe's most marginalised communities in the country, Muzarabani, is now part of the global community after it was connected to the Internet last Friday.

The dry and remote area of Muzarabani, which is relatively flat and situated along the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border in Mashonaland Central province in Zimbabwe, has for the past years continued to be disconnected from the rest of the country in the absence of a functional digital information community centre.

In an effort to bring the area in line with other developing communities, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) opened a digital information community centre in the natural disaster-prone area.

But the euphoria was short lived as Zimpost, which was mandated to run the centre, quickly ran into challenges and abandoned the project altogether.

Last week, the telecommunications regulator took it upon itself to revive the community information centre which was slowly becoming a white elephant.

“A fortnight ago, we received a report that the network at the community information centre was having challenges,” Potraz acting director for universal services fund Kennedy Dewera said.

“We are here to ensure there is network and the people are connected as this is part of our mandate.”

The centre is one-stop information and communication technology (ICT) shop which offers Internet, photocopying, printing, scanning, faxing, laminating and gaming services.

Dewera noted that the overall aim of establishing community information centres is to achieve equity of access to information, thereby bridge the digital divide between urban and rural communities.

Research has shown that ICTs can avail information relevant for agricultural production, processing, marketing, transport and food storage, education, healthcare, disease control as well as environmental managed.

Seventy two-year-old former school teacher Stanislas Mugadza said the re-opening of the centre will help farmers to keep track of new agricultural trends.

“I come here to research on what I can use to grow my crop and come with a better yield. If we are stuck on how to grow our crops, we come here to look for answers on the internet.”

Muringazuva Ward 8 councillor Norman Chizeya said the centre will assist school children surfing the Internet to augment what they would have learnt in class.

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