Zimbabwe has assumed the chairmanship of the Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) and has called for SADC collaboration in the quest to leverage on ICTs as well as vast postal networks in member states to fight the pandemic.
This emerged at the 10th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) held virtually on 29 April 2021. The meeting came at a time when the region and the world at large, are wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The meeting is an opportunity for CRASA to reassert how SADC can leverage on ICTs as well as vast postal networks in member states to fight the pandemic. I say this in view of the fact that ICTs and postal services are playing a critical role in combating COVID – 19 as well as mitigating the economic and social disruption arising therefrom.
“Distinguished delegates, as you are already aware, one of the immediate key outcomes of the COVID -19 pandemic is the unprecedented upsurge in the use of the Internet through online education, e-shopping, e-worshipping, telemedicine, and the use of e-platforms to order fast food among other things. COVID – 19 has made everyone realise and appreciate the need for ICT access,” Dr. Jenfan Muswere, the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services said.
The minister said millions of people within the SADC region are still unconnected, mostly those living in rural areas and remote communities, which is why bringing universal broadband connectivity is now an urgent necessity.
“Access is not simply a problem of connectivity, it is more a problem of affordability, having the relevant content in the local language, making people aware of the benefits, and giving them the digital skills to take advantage of the connection. Issues to do with people living with disabilities also need to be addressed as we aim to universalize broadband.”
Dr. Gift Machengete, the Director-General of the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) said in the information society, Universal Access to Information is certainly the panacea to the region’s socio-economic challenges.
“Indeed, in a digital economy, Universal Access and Use of ICTs will be the source of our economic prosperity as a region. Indeed, streamlining ICTs will be essential for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. This is why the importance of the Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) in fostering synergies among members through harmonisation of policies and regulations for the improvement of the ICT and postal sectors of member states, cannot be overstated. The importance of this meeting in advancing ICT development as well as postal sector revival and reform in the SADC region is undoubted,” Dr. Machengete said.
He underscored the importance of collaboration in advancing ICTS.
“As a region, we cannot effectively address all the pertinent challenges posed by the mutating nature of the ICT sector without collaboration. Mathematically, it is said; Collaboration divides the task and multiplies the success.
“Similarly, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, once remarked and I quote “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.” The symbiotic relationship between collaboration and success is, therefore, without doubt, apparent. Hence, ladies and gentlemen, as we have all come together as ICT regulators from the SADC region, let us now work together to ensure a fruitful conclusion of this meeting,” Dr. Machengete added.