Rural Zimbabwe is characterised by a
lack of proper infrastructure, a limited electricity supply and poor
road networks. Traditionally, communication to these areas has always
However, over the past five years
mobile phones have begun providing a means of communication,
connecting Zimbabwe's rural population with urban dwellers.
According to the Postal and
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), a body
mandated to issue licences in the postal and telecommunications
sector, Zimbabwe now has a mobile penetration of 97 percent.
"The increase in mobile
penetration has been triggered by increased investment in
communication infrastructure in both urban and rural areas, meaning
that marginalised people can now afford to use mobile phones",
POTRAZ acting director Alfred Marisa told IPS.
Mobile phones have slowly become the
simplest and cheapest mode of communication in this southern African
According to the Zimbabwe Statistics
Agency's 2011-2012 Poverty Income Consumption and Expenditure Survey,
which was released in June, 7.7 percent of Zimbabwe's economically
active population is unemployed. This is a marked contrast to
previously reported unemployment figures of 85 to 90 percent.
The report also noted that 8.2 million
Zimbabweans in rural areas are poor, while 10.7 percent of the rural
population is unemployed. It is estimated that 72 percent of
Zimbabwe's 12.75 million people live in rural areas.
But despite these high poverty figures
for rural Zimbabwe, mobile phone usage is growing rapidly there.
According to Frost and Sullivan Growth
Partnership Services, an international company that conducts business
research to accelerate growth, "despite the high levels of
unemployment, the number of mobile phone subscribers in Zimbabwe has
increased from less than two million at the end of 2008 to more than
10.9 million in 2013".
According to Josham Gurira, an
economist at the University of Zimbabwe, access to mobile phones will
continue to change rural Zimbabwe.
"Access to information and
communication technologies is now considered a basic human right and
mobile phones have offered the best opportunity to enhance the
digital divide which could have prevented it. The use of mobile
technology has empowered many people and is regarded as a key tool in
helping alleviate global poverty", Gurira told IPS.
"The adaption of mobile technology
has redefined the way people communicate and the growth in mobile
phone use has shaped a new way of engagement and connection. Mobile
phones are providing Zimbabwe with an opportunity to develop",
(Source: All Africa