Rural electrification a big requirement for technological development in Zimbabwe.
We all may agree that one of the key areas that our country needs to work on in-order to get on the technological map and even transform the lives of the local citizens is technological development. More and more research shows that technological development continues to be more like an urban and elite thing which excludes our rural areas, schools and other rural institutions, families included. There can be many reasons for this imbalance but lack of electricity in rural areas is the biggest issue. All kind of technologies so far have one thing in common, they are power driven. Here are the reasons why I find it necessary to speed up rural electrification programs and to drive the rural technological agenda.
There is a higher population percentage in rural areas compared to urban areas
The 2012 statics showed that nearly 70% of our population in Zimbabwe are in Rural areas and this number continues to grow as statistics proved that there has been more urban to rural migration according to the Sunday Mail. That means that ignoring the rural areas in technological advancement is ignoring 70% of the population. You may also find out that in every institution or company most of their workers have a rural background one way or the other, can be academically, but talk to them and they will tell you they came from the rural areas not knowing a thing about technology, not because they were ignorant but because, there were no services due to lake of power.
Rural areas host a number of key institutions where technology need to start from
You may also have found that rural areas also host a number of institutions where key technological developments must start from. The following are some of the key institutions that I am talking about:
- Academic Institutions such as schools
Statistics also show that there are more schools in rural areas than in urban areas. Research has many times shown that rural schools are somehow disadvantaged in terms of academic resources and this short supply of resources include shortage or lack of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources among others, and digging this further you may find that lack of power is one of the biggest issues. Teachers even shun rural schools for lack of power as well. It is high time that the involved ministries come together and fight this problem.
- Health Institutions
One of the reasons why heath institutions are sparsely located in rural areas is because most health institution require ICT work for things like data capturing and assessment as well as to support other intelligent health technology. This also requires power which like I mentioned is not accessible easily in rural areas leading to a situation where a single health institution may have to serve an unrealistically large population.
- Agricultural Institutions
Well, agriculture is one of the economic back bone for this country and most farms are located in rural areas. I have also heard the masses complaining of people who were given farms but are not using them to full capacity. Technology has become an integrated part of almost every sector of the economy including agriculture. Like I previously alluded to, no power, no technology! How then do we expect the farmers to make full use of the farms without enough power to support the technology required. On the same note an alternative to this can be using private ICT companies. Unfortunately these also shun rural institutions especially schools because they are supported by law income families and yet the setup costs can be huge.
In conclusion, I feel that it is high time that the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Telecommunications, Postal and Courier Services and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education come together and effectively combine their forces to solve this issue and pave way for the digital age.