Tanzania eyes becoming Africa’s digital hub

There are challenges that the country needs to address so that young people can help it achieve its main target, says expert

What you need to know:

  • The government was making efforts including ensuring that communication in the country is facilitated and is accessible to all

Dar es Salaam. The government has outlined strategies that will make Tanzania’s dream of becoming a hub for innovation and digital economy in Africa a reality.

For their part, stakeholders have advised on what the country needs to do to achieve that goal without leaving anyone behind, including setting up an enabling environment for young innovators and startups.

This was said on Friday evening at the third Innovation and Tech Forum conference organised by Media Convergence in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The event brought together stakeholders from creative agencies, telecoms, innovators and government whose mission was to chart ways in which Tanzania can become a digital hub.

The stakeholders also pointed out the existing challenges that the government needs to address, including digital economic policies that will be easily understood by young innovators, but also a need for constant mentorship on digital issues.

But, Information and Communications Technology’s PS Jim Yonazi said the government was making efforts including ensuring that communication in the country was facilitated and was accessible to all.

“We have ensured that our people have access to communication through their phones and other ICT devices by removing some of the taxes on these gadgets. This is one of the efforts to ensure that, despite the existence of communication tools, the people themselves are equipped to use them,” he said.

In addition, he said the government has continued to increase the telecommunications budget where also the National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) continues to spread and has reached over 8,300 kilometres so far.

“Our goal is to ensure that we reach 15,000 kilometres come 2025 and that every citizen has access to quality connectivity,” he said.

He said they want young women to be empowered in the digital economy so that no one is left behind.

Regarding the security of the digital economy, he said that there was specialised training for various government officials with the aim of creating a conducive environment for the digital economy to flourish.

“Security is something that the government has always given priority to. We insist on building the capacity of the people to participate in the economy and in setting up infrastructure to facilitate security,” Dr Yonazi said.

Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) director general Amos Nungu noted that the government has set up a docket, specifically for telecommunications issues, as one of the strategies to achieve the goal of becoming a hub for digital in Africa.

“We cannot be a hub if the government walks on its own without its citizens, that is why this meeting is one of the ways to get into action together,” he said.

He noted that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology was also responsible for overseeing the country’s innovative environment, and that now the Ministry of Telecommunications has been tasked with overseeing innovation in ICT, with the two ministries working to create an enabling environment to facilitate achievement of the goal.

Dr Nungu noted that there were challenges that need to be addressed so that young people can help the country register achievements.

“Basically it is our policies that we continue to improve to help our young people with ideas succeed. Another which is to me the biggest one, is the capital challenge,” he said.

He added that young people often have good ideas that they cannot put in the context of the country, “So you find it is an idea that we have watched on television working well in the US but it becomes difficult to be executed in Tanzanian context.”

“Also there’s language challenges. Even so, together we will continue to address these challenges to enable our country to reach its full potential as it is very possible,” said Dr Nungu.

Agrinfo Tanzania’s director Rose Funja said: “We can certainly achieve the goal if young people are taught how to take advantage of the opportunities available.”

, but also digital economic policies must allow designers to grow further.”

Also Mr Zahoro Muhaji, CEO of Tanzania Startup Association said that various approaches to enable startups to grow will help the country to penetrate into the digital economy.

“Young people must be encouraged and not discouraged and this requires all of us as stakeholders to work together to achieve one goal of making technology a part of Tanzanians’ lives,” he said.