Form e-economy team, government urged

Thursday October 10 2019

Ikona Wildlife Management Association chairman

Ikona Wildlife Management Association chairman Elias Chama displays one of the drones purchased to chase away elephants that invade people’s farms in Serengeti District. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming the order of the day. PHOTO | FILE 

By Alex Malanga & Hellen Nachilongo @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. As Tanzania is slowly but surely embracing a digital-based economy, stakeholders yesterday called for policy formulation and the setting-up of a task force to facilitate the processes.

Industrialists and technology experts say the digital economy is here to stay - and, as such, Tanzania needs to come up with task force that would see to the country sailing through the processes smoothly without leaving some sectors behind.

Today, the world is already undergoing a fourth industrial revolution, following three previous revolutions, namely: the steam engine, the age of science and mass production, and the rise of digital technology.

Speaking during an event that was organised by Sahara Spark in Dar es Salaam yesterday, prominent investor, Ambassador Ami Mpungwe said Tanzania needed a policy that defines issues of the fourth industrial revolution, and set out the strategies that would assist the country to move towards it.

“Nowadays, almost everybody has started mapping out a digital journey for their companies… The entire world has been embracing this fourth industrial revolution. It is high time for us in Africa - and, specifically: Tanzania - to be part of that process,” he said.

Adoption of the concept, said Mr Mpungwe, would make businesses more efficient, more competitive and more productive.

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He also said that, other than addressing structural economic issues of the path that forced the continent to be producers of raw materials - but leaving processing to take place outside the continent, thus sustaining the poverty syndrome - time had come to restructure the processes.

“We need to apply opportunities that are available in the fourth industrial revolution - such as robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D - which can help us to get out of the poverty trap,” Mr Mpungwe said.

For her part, Ms Sandra Chogo - an auditor with the National Audit Office - called for the setting up of a special task force that would enhance execution of an industrial digital economy.

She said Tanzania should emulate South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya which had already formed special task forces to advise on the fourth industrial revolution.

“With a task force (in place), we will be able to move forward together faster than if each individual walks alone,” noted Ms Sandra.

A former director general of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech), Dr Hassan Mshinda, suggested framing a policy that would pave thr way for proper utilisation of infrastructure.

He said the national fiber optic system which brings broadband to the district level was a huge step toward a digital economy.

However, he said, despite the government investing billions in the national fibreoptic, its use is yet to be fully capitalized.

“A digital economy is inevitable, as it has a lot of benefits in terms of addressing our developmental challenges - and there are so many opportunities that we have, as far as it is concerned,” noted Dr Mshinda.

The deputy permanent secretary in the ministry of Education, Science and Technology, James Mdoe, said the government was committed to a digital economy - and the dream would be realised through increasing investments in basic and technical vocational education.

“But, the skills must be linked to industry, and we need to have firsthand information on what is needed by stakeholders,” said Prof Mdoe.