Let me share with you our Government’s efforts in promoting universal access to ICT services and products to our people, in order to boost job creation and increase productivity in the economy.
During 2013, a project was launched through ZICTA to set up 169 GSM sites countrywide mainly aimed at providing coverage to unserved chiefdoms and other rural populations. This project is on-going and is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year at a cost of US$24 million. The 169 Towers Project will bring benefits of mobile phone service and the other services riding on it such as mobile money to more than 200, 000 citizens amongst the rural population.
Furthermore, by the end of 2014, the optic fibre network on-going network expansion is expected to cover a distance of 8,000 km from the current distance of 7,385 km. These projects will contribute significantly to our goal of narrowing the digital divide between urban and rural areas and thus stimulate socio – economic growth in the country.
On a similar note, Our Government through ZICTA has been implementing the “Connecting Learning Institutions Project” aimed at establishing computer labs in public tertiary, secondary and primary education institutions in order to enhance the quality of education. As of December 2013, ZICTA had completed the set up of computer labs in 47 public colleges and 150 secondary and primary schools. Having computers in all schools is a priority of our Government.
In this regard, in 2014, our Government will through ZICTA spearhead the establishment of a computer assembly plant in Lusaka. Some of the benefits of the computer assembly plant include: job creation, availability of affordable low cost computer equipment to citizens as well as value addition through use of some local resources such as copper in the manufacture/assembly process.
Going forward, our Government is focusing on promoting e-commerce and use of ICT in trade promotion, establishing e-Government online services and promoting e-education, e-health and e-agriculture. MCS – 10/02/14