World Bank ranks Tanzania highly in public sector digital transformation

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What you need to know:

  • Tanzania is one of just four African countries included in a group of 69 nations described as global leaders in public sector digital transformation

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is one of just four African countries included in a group of 69 nations designated as global leaders in public sector digital transformation, a decision that has been highly received by observers.

According to the World Bank’s 2022 GovernmentTech Maturity Index (GTMI) Report, other African countries on the list include Cabo Verde, Egypt and Uganda.

Along with the other 68 out of 198 economies analysed, Tanzania is placed in group A, which is classified as leaders, who have been using advanced or innovative digital solutions and demonstrating good practices in all four GovTech focus areas.

The focus areas are the Core Government Systems Index, Public Service Delivery Index, Digital Citizen Engagement Index and GovernmentTech Enablers Index.

Other 46 economies found themselves in group B (23 percent) to imply that they have made significant investments in various GovTech focus areas but have room for improvement.

Some 53 governments were placed in group C (27 percent), suggesting that they have ongoing projects to improve maturity but fall behind the current GovTech frontier.

On the other hand, 30 governments were positioned in Group D (15 percent), indicating that they have placed minimal or no emphasis on the GovTech agenda.

Sahara Ventures Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jumanne Mtambalike attributed Tanzania’s new development to the quality of public services offered through digital platforms. “We have a very active e-Government Agency that has established several systems within different public offices that increase efficiency, confidentiality and integrity,” said Mr Mtambalike.

The government also has an e-office system (GeOS) that facilitates day-to-day government administrative processes involving the movement of files and documents.

Icing the cake, the World Bank commended Tanzania for having an online service portal that brings services closer to the public by allowing citizens to apply for passports, permits, and licences and to make payments online.

Tanzania, explained Mr Mtambalike, is one of the most advanced countries in Africa when it comes to government adoption of digital tools as solutions to offer public services.

“This shows that the government has created enough services at the service layer for people to be able to access different public services offered by the government,” he concluded.

Tunzaa Fintech founder and CEO Ng’winula Kingamkono said one significant development made in Tanzania is the ability of Tanzanians to pay their government bills using mobile phones or bank accounts with control numbers.

This innovation, he said, has made it easier and more convenient for people to pay their bills without the need for internet connectivity.

The advancement, Mr Kingamkono added, has also increased financial inclusion in the country, enabling more people to access financial services, which was once a challenge in Tanzania.

“It has also improved accountability and transparency in the payment of government bills by reducing the likelihood of fraud and mismanagement of funds,” he told this paper.

However, he recommended that infrastructure and support be put in place to bridge the digital gap and ensure that all citizens can benefit from technological advancements.

“While the developments are impressive, it is crucial to ensure that they are accessible to everyone, as the digital divide is still present in Tanzania,” suggested Mr Kingamkono. Mipango App co-founder Lilian Rabi commended efforts made by the previous and current governments to drive the adoption of digital systems in the provision and facilitation of public services.

“For Tanzania to be in Group A of the GTMI, which is generally dominated by high- and upper-middle-income economies, speaks volumes,” she told The Citizen through a WhatsApp chart.

Going by the report, high- and upper-middle income economies dominated the group of GovTech Leaders (Group A), whereas only 16 percent of both lower-middle and low-income economies were represented in Group A.

From the Government Electronic Payment Gateway (GePG), institution payments to digital identification (ID), Tanzania, which is in a lower middle-income status, clearly made strides regardless of its economic status and education status, said Ms Rabi.

She said the smooth adoption of various public service innovations by the general public is also something to applaud.

However, Ms Rabi recommended more efforts to drive digital penetration, which still sits at 25 percent, by making digital devices more affordable and internet services cheaper.

“Private-public partnerships should be considered to ease the infrastructure creation burden on the private sector, which ultimately affects affordability,” she recommended.

The permanent secretary of the ministry for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Mr Mohammed Abdulla, said the government is keen to ensure the availability and accessibility of reliable and affordable digital services countrywide.

He told The Citizen yesterday that this is as stipulated in the National Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Policy, 2016.

He added that the government is taking measures to address prevailing challenges to realise this aspiration. Some of the obstacles that the government is working on include the absence of broadband infrastructure in some areas of the country as well as the need to lower the cost of digital devices and internet services.

“The measures taken to address the challenges include setting up an enabling business environment to spur investment in digital device manufacturing and assembly plants,” noted Mr Abdulla.

Other actions include; encouraging the private sector to institute device financing models such as payment installment plans, subsidies, loans, leases and rentals.