Zimbabwe

Potraz hands over ICT equipment to the disabled

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA

Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director-general Gift Machengete on Tuesday donated information communications technology (ICT) equipment to institutions catering for people living with disabilities.

Through its Universal Services Fund, the telecoms regulatory authority handed over 180 laptops to various centres such as Ingutsheni Central Hospital, Chengetai Special School, Nzeve Deaf Centre, Henry Murray, University of Zimbabwe and Midlands State University.

Speaking at the handover ceremony held in Harare on Tuesday, Machengete said it was estimated that more than one billion people, which is about 15% of the world’s population, had one form of disability or the other, whether physical or cognitive.

“A large number of people with disabilities live in marginalised rural communities where they are further disfranchised by the lack of telecommunication infrastructure to enable them to participate in the digital economy,” Machengete said.

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“To ensure that ‘no one is left behind’ in the digital world, ICT access and use is recognised as a key priority in several global commitments related to inclusiveness such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Transforming the World 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and more recently the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy.”

“Furthermore, Strategic Goal number 2 of the ITU focuses on “inclusiveness” and its target 2,9 — calls on ITU members to ensure that “by 2023, enabling environments ensuring accessible telecommunications/ICTs for persons with disabilities should be established in all countries”.

Machengete said it was from that backdrop, that they found it a pleasure and honour to offer ICT equipment to institutions catering for persons with disabilities, as they sought to advance inclusivity in the access to and use of ICTs.

“Such inclusivity will certainly breed progress and development, not only for the disabled community, but for the country at large owing to enhanced participation in the digital economy by all.” Machengete said with the advent of COVID-19, e-learning was no longer a luxury but a necessity.

“Online learning is now the new normal and as such our children in the rural areas should also not be left behind in this new phenomenon. These computers will, therefore, go a long way in mitigating the effects of COVID-19.”

He said the authority’s e-learning programme played a very important role, especially now when the world has gone digital.

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