AS PART of its Universal Access programme aimed at enhancing access to ICTs in the various rural chiefdoms in the country, the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA), has decided to increase the number of communications towers to be installed in chiefdoms from the original 169 to 204.
This is part of phase one of the Connecting Chiefdoms project, which has seen almost 100 communication towers installed in the various chiefdoms so far. By October 2014, 169 towers are scheduled to be installed and operational to ensure access to ICTs for local communities, including schools and health centres located in these areas.
The additional 35 communication towers are also expected to be installed in the course of this year.
In 2015, phase two of the project will be rolled out and will involve some 500 communication towers. It is expected that by the end of phase two of this project, the entire country will have access to ICTs.
The value this will add to the quality of life for local communities in form of access to communication with referral hospitals on the part of health centres, e-learning for schools in far flung areas and business opportunities for local farmers is immeasurable.
The other project under the Universal Access programme – the Connecting Learning Institutions project, which has seen the establishment of computer laboratories in high schools and colleges has also moved to another level with ZICTA facilitating connection of fibre optic to tertiary institutions.
The Connecting Learning Institutions project involves the establishment by ZICTA, of computer laboratories in about 150 schools and 50 colleges in the various districts of the country.
The project is now moving to the next level of ensuring these computer laboratories are connected to the internet.
A few years ago, ZICTA connected Mulungushi University, Copperbelt University and University of Zambia to fibre optic to encourage research and development in the three public universities.
This year, ZICTA has set aside funds to connect more tertiary institutions – Copperbelt University School of Medicine, Ndola School of Nursing, Northern Technical College and Zambia ICT College by the end of August 2014.
In Kitwe, Mukuba University, Kitwe Teachersâ€™ Training College and Kitwe School of Nursing will also be connected while in Central Province, Kabwe Trades Training Institute, Nkhrumah University and Kabwe School of Nursing are the expected beneficiaries in the next couple of months.
This step by the ICT regulator, will enhance research activities in higher institutions of learning and expose local students to international trends in their respective disciplines of study.
ZICTA is committed to ensure that in attaining universal access to ICTs, the different segments of the Zambian population have access and are able to utilize ICTs progressively, particularly that it has become evident that ICTs make a significant contribution to national GDP.