Editor's Comment

ICTs in rural areas can spur development

A TEACHER supervises pupils in computer lessons.

HUMAN and economic development is cardinal to take a country forward and this is also true for a country like Zambia.
Both human and economic development go hand in hand. There can be no progress of one without the other. When a country makes strides in its human development, it means it has also made some gains in economic development.
As people become exposed to better ways of doing things, like gaining new knowledge that improves on some processes, they are headed towards attaining economic successes.
Maybe we can look at it this way. When workers are trained in a novel way of producing soap using machines, they are likely to produce more soap than those who hold on to the old methods of making the same product.
It is that knowledge that adds to the human development as well as economic development through the en masse production of the product.
It is in light of the example above that we want to commend Government on its intentions to take development to the rural areas to stimulate development.
Rural areas, by virtue of the conditions that surround them, lag behind in terms of development. A number of developments that take place in urban areas seem to remain there or take longer to reach rural areas.
President Edgar Lungu has said Government is determined to make information and communication technology (ICT) accessible by people in the rural areas to stimulate human and economic development.
The president said he will not leave anyone behind in the efforts to transform the country into a middle income nation by 2030.
The President was speaking in a speech read for him by Minister in the Office of the Vice President Sylvia Chalikosa at the official opening of second regional conference of the International Telecommunications Society.
Already, as a nation, we are seeing some efforts aimed at this move. Government has introduced ICT as a subject in schools, including rural schools.
The teaching of the subject forms a good foundation for the introduction of ICTs to the rural areas. It means that children in rural areas will be equipped with the knowledge which they will also be able to share with others when they leave school.
These children are bound to form an important link in the dissemination of ICT knowledge within their settings.
The use of ICT comes with abundant knowledge, which when well applied, can lead to development, whether economic, human or social.
By taking ICTs to the rural areas, Government is seeking to make knowledge accessible to as many people as possible.
The people in rural areas need knowledge on a number of issues such as health, agriculture, education to use for their own benefit.
It is such knowledge that will also add to their human and economic development as they tackle every day issues that affect them.
But firstly, Government should take cognisance of some challenges in rural areas like the lack of electricity which is bound to make access to ICTs almost impossible.
While there are efforts to provide electricity through the Rural Electrification Authority, ( REA), many more areas need to be covered to support the taking of ICTs there.
We would therefore urge the REA to enhance its projects and connect as many people as possible to the electricity grid so that they benefit from Government initiatives such as this one.
Government wants to see that development takes place in both rural and urban areas at the same time, so that no one is left behind.
When we have developed rural areas, many will not see the need to flock to urban areas in search of a better life. This will be available in the rural areas.
We have examples of some places that use ICTs in rural areas on our continent and we have seen the positive benefits it has brought about.
We are hopeful that taking ICTs to rural areas will also yield long-term benefits for our nation.

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