ZIMBABWE: e-learning initiative on the cards

Zimbabwe is planning to launch an e-learning project whose aim will be to foster cooperation and the sharing of ideas and resources between local 10 universities through the use of information communication technology.

In an interview with University World News Dr Gilford Hapanyengwi, Director of the computer centre at the University of Zimbabwe, said planning for the project - including a comprehensive network diagram - had been completed.

Hapanyengwi said lack of a digital backbone in Zimbabwe had been the programme's major obstacle.

But he expressed optimism that with the creation in February this year of the country's first Ministry of Information Communication Technology, ICT infrastructure in the landlocked Southern African country would be developed.

At a recent workshop held by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, an elaborate ICT plan was discussed. "Universities are going to seek, and hopefully will be guaranteed, a couple of fibre strands on the backbone to enable internal connectivity," Hapanyengwi said.

It was essential to be connected to high-speed internet for universities to be able to deliver world-class teaching, research and community service, he added. "Universities need to have basic services that are availed by a connected network. They need to collaborate among themselves and also with the rest of the world."

The formation of the ICT ministry followed the swearing in of an inclusive government between long-time autocratic ruler President Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is now Prime Minister.

The power-sharing deal has eased Mugabe's repressive policies and rule, resulting in an improvement in economic conditions.

The ICT Ministry, headed by MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa, has just announced that an audit of national communication infrastructure will be conducted and an ICT law will be written aimed at developing and expanding Zimbabwe's ICT infrastructure and connectivity.