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Digital technologies gain traction on Covid-19

Gift Machengete
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The use of digital technologies gained momentum following the outbreak of Covid-19, with wider deployment of such technologies noted in trade, continuity in government, education, tracing of coronavirus contacts and more importantly education, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), director general Dr Gift Machengete has said.

He said this yesterday while addressing the ministerial round table during the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Digital World 2020 conference that was held virtually.

It was co-organised by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) of Vietnam and the ITU, the United Nations specialised agency for ICTs.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, digital technologies have been used to ensure continuity in government, in business, in trade and in education.

“Furthermore, digital technologies have been used for information dissemination, for forecasting which is required for planning purposes and for contact tracing which is essential in stopping the spread of the (corona) virus,” said Dr Machengete.

“The pandemic has seen increased use of digital technologies and as such, increased demand for broadband.

“The prevailing high use of digital technologies will certainly continue in the future as they bring convenience to people’s lives and ease of doing business. In the future, digital platforms will also be used to predict and combat similar outbreaks.”

Dr Machengete said governments have largely relied on online platforms to disseminate information, create awareness and debunk fake news, adding that the online platforms will continue to be used to disseminate information even after Covid-19.

He said governments have relied on digital applications that provide artificial intelligence to forecast the spread of the virus and impact of the pandemic, allowing for planning and implementation of appropriate mitigation measures of the pandemic as well as predict future occurrence of pandemics of similar nature.

“While physical business interactions where stopped during the various lock downs, business did not come to a halt as people held virtual meetings, cutting down on costs associated with physical meetings.

“Virtual business meetings will certainly continue after the pandemic. This trend of working from home is likely to be the new normal even after the pandemic as companies can save on rentals and utilities.

“While physical trade was stopped during the lockdowns, businesses continued trading online, making use of various e-commerce platforms available such as e-bay and Amazon.

“This trend will certainly continue after Covid-19,” he said.

Dr Machengete said schools were hit hard by the pandemic as they were forced to close early, but learning did not stop as various online learning platforms were used for e-learning.

It is predicted that a number of virtual schools will be established after the pandemic and as such, the various online learning platforms popularised by Covid-19, will remain relevant after the pandemic.

Dr Machengete said on its part, Potraz has been rolling out Community Information Centres in marginalised rural areas to ensure everyone has access not only to internet, but also to accurate Covid-19 information, while children have access to e-learning platforms and businesses can engage in e-commerce.

Almost 150 CICs have been launched across Zimbabwe. – Herald