The Zimbabwean ICT Postal And Couriers services minister Hon Supa Mandiwanzira joined World leaders as he addressed the more than 1,700 international delegates gathered in Geneva, Switzerland to attend the 2015 addition of the world summit on the information society (WSIS 2015).
Representatives from about 140 countries, including over 120 government ministers, ambassadors and heads of agencies, are attending the week-long event, which comprises 140 different sessions.
Speaking during the summit, Hon Minister Mandiwanzira proudly delivered Zimbabwe’s policy statement to a captivated audience, advising the world that Zimbabwe remains resolute in bringing affordable internet access to all citizens .
“By way of both supply and demand side interventions including connecting to the undersea cables, rolling out a national fibre backbone network as well as implementing a mix of last mile connectivity solutions among which are fibre to the home and fibre to the cabin solutions for urban areas and radio-based solutions for rural areaswe have made aceess for all a reality”.
The move saw Zimbabwe seeing a major price reduction as ISPs heavily competed to reach “These interventions have brought about significant reductions in internet tariffs resulting in the internet penetration rate rising from a meagre 1.3% in 2008 to 45% as at the end of December 2014.”
The purpose is to identify emerging trends, fresh priorities and innovations for advancing the ‘ICT for development’ agenda, while strengthening the impact of ICTs as an enabler of sustainable development.
The Forum is being Hosted by ITU and co-organisers UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP in close collaboration with the UN and sister agencies including WIPO, UNDESA, FAO, UNEP, WHO, ILO, WMO, ITC, UPU, UN Women, WFP, UNODC and the UN Regional Commission
The WSIS Forum 2015 event is the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT’ Development Community, aiming to define strategies and tactics to help countries and organizations more effectively harness the power of ICTs to meet new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He further drew the world’s attention to “a number of initiatives which have been rolled out to increase access to ICTs among rural communities thanks to the Universal Service Fund”. He outlined the projects which include the passive network infrastructure programme which involves, construction of access roads, towers, equipment rooms, solar power installations and security fences for mobile base stations in high cost, underserved areas, the Connect-a-School Connect-a-Community project which involves provision of computer laboratories, Internet connectivity and training of teachers, in rural schools. In addition to the USF projects, the Minister also referred to the Government’s implementation of other rural based ICT programmes that include telemedicine linking major hospitals to smaller rural hospitals, integration of ICTs into rural Post Offices to create Community Information Centres (CICs), and the roll out of low-cost radio access networks for rural communities.
He finally assured delegates that the Government of Zimbabwe will double its efforts in ensuring that access to ICTs is improved across the country. The forum will end on Friday the 29th of May 2015.
The event started with a video message from the United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon and an opening speech by international Telecommunications Union Secretary General Mr Houlin Zhao, followed by speeches from various leaders of the co-organiser United Nations Agencies.