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POTRAZ unveils Community Information Centre (CIC) in Murambinda

POTRAZ, Community Information Centre, CIC, Murambinda

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), today launched a Community Information Centre (CIC) and Community Network in Murambinda.

This follows the launch of a shipping container version in Nyachuru late last month. Below are the remarks of POTRAZ Director-General Dr Gift Machengete at the unveiling of the Murambinda CIC.

No one should be left behind !  I repeat, No one should be left behind ! Yes Ladies and gentlemen, No one should be left behind! That is our mantra. That is our slogan. That is our motto. That is our war cry and that is the philosophy by which we do our work as POTRAZ.  

With only half of the world’s population having access to the Internet a lot of people are still left behind on the digital highway. Getting online is still a challenge for many people across the globe for a number of reasons, including affordability and lack of access. Those most affected are communities in remote rural areas of developing countries and small island developing states.   

However, one transformative way to overcome the connectivity challenge in such areas is employing public access solutions such as Community Networks and Community Information Centres as they help connect marginalised rural, remote, and underserved communities by making the Internet more accessible and more affordable.

Ladies and gentlemen, the two projects launched here today, that is the Murambinda Community Information Centre and the Murambinda Community Network will indeed go a long way in transforming people’s lives as they complement each other in the provision of affordable Internet access and ultimately ensuring the Murambinda Community is not left behind.

The benefits of improved Internet access and use modelled around affordability are enormous. The convenience and ease of doing business brought about by the Internet is astonishing. It is in that regard that I feel proud to be associated with the two projects launched here today and indeed, it is also in that regard, that I feel greatly honoured to be addressing you here today.  

As we focus on affordability as the lynchpin for Internet access and use, the Community Information Centre will provide free Internet access to patrons until year-end, while those accessing the Internet through the Community Network will pay negligible rates. I am informed that the ultimate target for the Community Network is to charge only One US Dollar for an unlimited monthly Whatsapp Bundle. How awesome would that be.     

Honourable Ministers, while we are all now familiar with the Community Information Centre project, what we are seeing today is the beginning of a revolution, what we are witnessing here is the ushering in of a new era, what we have is the dawning of a new era. The era of Community Networks, which will come as a complimentary project to the Community Information Centre Project to ensure greater Internet access and use to those previously left behind.   

By way of background, in 2019 TelOne applied for spectrum in two licence-exempt bands namely the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands for the deployment of a low-cost access network in Murambinda. The Project was to be implemented as a Proof of Concept pilot project that would provide key lessons on low cost network rollout for bridging the digital divide between the well-to-do urban areas and the largely unconnected rural communities. POTRAZ granted the free spectrum that TelOne had applied for as well as authority to implement the Proof of Concept

TelOne partnered Vision Internet for the implementation of the access network and provision of Wireless internet services in Murambinda. Vision Internet supplied the access network, while TelOne availed the 25 Gig Internet backhaul for the project.

Now fully operational, the Community Network which comprises four (4) base station sites and eight (8) access sites is providing connectivity to surrounding schools, the Nurses training school and the Murambinda Mission hospital, council offices, households and farms. This has totally changed the complexion of Murambinda in terms of connectivity. With the launch of the Community Information Centre to further bolster Internet access and use, Murambinda will now become the envy of many.

As I conclude my remarks, allow me to take this opportunity to pay homage to all players who have made this initiative a success, that is TelOne, Vision Internet, Murambinda Works, Internet Society and of course the Murambinda community itself. We should also not forget to thank ourselves, as POTRAZ, for availing the free spectrum for this pilot project, which I am sure is now ready to be replicated in other parts of the country.

Finally, I would like to urge the Murambinda Community to embrace the two projects launched here today. I urge you to make full advantage of the improved connectivity for the enrichment of your lives. Protect the infrastructure from theft and vandalism and ensure that everything is kept well maintained.

I Thank You

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