By Verengai Mabika Senior Policy Advisor – Africa
The Internet changed everything.
Almost 5 years ago, I launched an Internet based innovation company and watched it grow to 32 African countries in just a few years. One tool changed my life. It changed how I work, how I build friendships, how I learn, and so much more.
I see the same opportunities for anyone in Zimbabwe and it’s because of this that I’m so excited to announce that the official launch of the Zimbabwe Chapter of the Internet Society is officially scheduled for 20 March 2015.
A Connected Zimbabwe
Approximately 40 percent (5.2 million) of Zimbabwe’s population are Internet users as of January 2014. This contrasts with 15.7 percent in 2011 and 0.4 percent in the year 2000. Most of the users (5.16 million) access Internet via mobile devices.
Generally speaking most people use the Internet for communications, with Facebook and Whatsapp being the most popular sites. Video and voice calling with facilities such as Skype are also becoming popular as almost every family in Zimbabwe has a relatives living around the world.
Across the country we’re seeing the rise of e-learning is increasingly becoming popular amongst students of all ages as well as universities and colleges. We also can’t forget how Zimbabweans using the internet to advocate for social, political and economic rights using things like blogs, news applications, and more.
What Needs to Change
As reflected in the growth and penetration rate (40%) Internet in Zimbabwe is a major economic driver and changing how we do business with the world.
However, the industry is dominated by only a few major players so we’re facing unaffordable pricing models. We decided to start the Internet Society Chapter to empower every day Zimbabweans as they learn about the Internet and become their own advocates for change.
We’re also working to improve the development of telecommunications infrastructure in the country, as well as to facilitate open development of standards, protocols, administration, and the technical infrastructure of the Internet.
The Internet needs to be accessible and open to everyone.
How You Can Help
The members of the Internet Society Zimbabwe Chapter are amazing and today we can say the Chapter is much stronger than we ever imagined! It’s very impressive to see the difference the evidence-based advocacy is making.
Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.