[Image Source: Ministry of ICT]
Back in 2016, POTRAZ started commissioning Community Information Centres (CICs). When POTRAZ & the ICT Ministry started out, 210 CICs were meant to be commissioned and these information centres were meant to serve the underserved and unserved rural communities.
How would they do this? By building out centres where “people can access computers, the Internet and other digital technologies that enable them to gather information, create, learn and communicate with others while they develop essential digital skills”
The information centres would be made up of the following:
- Renovated or constructed building
- Furniture for housing of computers, server and other equipment
- Internet connectivity through Optic Fibre or VSAT which is then accessed via cabled LAN and Wi-Fi.
- 10- to 32 Computers Per CIC depending on the Size of each CIC
- A minimum of twelve(12) computers for the training room including a projector and whiteboard
- Printing, scanning and fax facilities
- Gaming facilities Play station, ancillary equipment and related screens for children to learn decision-making skills.*
* The few CICs I’ve come across don’t have gaming facilities YET but I suspect that’s because of budgetary concerns.
So 4 years on, what has actually become of this project? We reached out to some POTRAZ and Ministry of ICT representatives to understand the current state of the project.
For starters, POTRAZ is no longer heading the project with ZIMPOST now at the forefront of things – though they still work alongside POTRAZ and the Ministry of ICT.
Of the 210 CICs the government and partners set out to build, 170 have been commissioned so far. 107 of those have been operationalised and this year the Ministry plans to open 40 more this year.
The Minister of ICT, Jenfan Muswere said more of these will be commissioned next year in a speech.
The Ministry, working closely with POTRAZ, targets to operationalise 40 of the outstanding CICs in 2020, with the balance set to be operationalised in year 2021.Jenfan Muswere – ICT Minister
Again as part of that initial 170 CICs are 24 “Containerised Village Information Centres”. These are simply CICs which were built out of fabricated containers. They were deployed in areas where there was no space in post offices to build out the standard CICs or where there aren’t post offices at all.
Interesting to note is the fact that the ICT Minister also said Information Centres that are yet to be operationalised already have the existing internet infrastructure in place:
Internet connectivity may not have been activated at CICs that are not yet operational but the required infrastructure is already in placeJenfan Muswere
When this project was started, the target for completion was 2018, This obviously hasn’t been met. Why is that the case? Minister Muswere expressed that budgetary constraints meant that the laptops and other gadgets which are in these centres are yet to be acquired.