Murambinda town is now connected to the world

The sleepy town of Murambinda in Buhera District in Manicaland Province has become the first to be connected to the Internet benefitting about 12 000 inhabitants.

Shepherd Mutsiwegota
Booth
UNICEFZimbabwe/2021/Kudzai Tinago
26 May 2021

The sleepy town of Murambinda in Buhera District in Manicaland Province has become the first to be connected to the Internet benefitting about 12 000 inhabitants.

The town that is located about 300 km from the capital, Harare has benefitted from a low-cost shared internet connection where the entire community can share a particular bandwidth from local Internet provider.

Despite cellular communications having grown exponentially in Zimbabwe over the last two decades, many parts of the country still lack access to broadband Internet services.

For Murambinda, not only are five schools benefitting from the low-cost and affordable shared internet service but also a health facility, businesses, residential areas all within the 40 km radius that will have access to Wifi through installed broadband boaster towers.

On the 14th of March 2021, the town was connected to the globe when the government supported Murambinda Community Network initiative was launched. The newly connected business centre and surrounding areas has services such as running water and grid electricity making the Internet connection a useful service and ready to use.

Teacher giga
UNICEFZimbabwe/2021/Kudzai Tinago

To the residents of urban Murambinda, the affordable internet through the community network will easily result in technological benefits for learners at the schools as e-learning is now possible, ease of business for shopping and engagement with the outside world.

A further forty kilometers away in rural Murambinda, the situation is different. An Information and Communication Technology teacher at Chawatama High School, Faith Dude is ecstatic:

“It is good that we are now connected and this will make us benefit from free e-learning platforms with rich content like the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s Learning Passport. There is both excitement and challenges in the operation of the devices as most of my students are accessing a computer for the first time.”

Murambinda
UNICEFZimbabwe/2021/Kudzai Tinago

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted from normal day to day activities with the usage and impact of technology being felt especially in the education sector.

Reaching Chawatama High School is fraught with a meandering dirt road that is difficult for any vehicle to pass. Most residents use ox drawn carts as means of transportation. Farm bricks and mortar thatched homesteads dominate the community.

“This is the community that will be connected to a lot of potential information that will transform the way we live, comprehend and conduct ourselves. You can call it globalization or engagement but what is undeniable is that this marginalized community like many others will change,” Faith said. 

Chawatama High School has an average size of 35 students per class.

Despite that most families are living in relative poverty, parents view education as a great achievement despite the seemingly prohibitive USD20 in school fees per term.

Murambinda road
UNICEFZimbabwe/2021/Kudzai Tinago

Thanks to the Ministry of Information Communication Technology’s e-learning programme, 40 computers have been provided to the school. This will be the first exposure to computers for many of the learners, aged between 13 and 18 years.