Why technology likely to maintain role post-Covid

Sunday June 20 2021
Covid 19 pic

Information and Communications Technology minister Faustine Ndugulile (right) is briefed by Tanzania Postal Corporation’s information officer Ruben Komba (second left) about ICT systems used by TPC in Dar es Salaam last year. PHOTO|FILE

By Josephine Christopher

Dar es Salaam. The advancement and adaptation of technology came in handy to mankind during the Covid-19 era across the world.

To a great extent, the pandemic acted as a catalyst of change pushing people to adapt new lifestyles, particularly, the increasingly dependence on technology in carrying out various human activities like some activities shifting online.

Following the outbreak of the pandemic, virtual activities came to be promoted as safe.

With the virtual world considered as a safe environment such activities as work execution, meetings, learning, fundraising, recruitment and many others shifted there.

It was thanks to advanced technology that some operations remained afloat during the pandemic, with some employees continuing to earn a living by working online.

Circumstances of the pandemic forced most people across the world to cope with the ‘new normal’.

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A number of the technologies have been around for quite some time, but they started to play a far more prominent role after the outbreak of Covid-19.

Tabling the 2021/2022 fiscal year budget, the minister for Communications and Information Technology, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, said 29 million internet users exist in Tanzania.

The amount is 93 percent more compared to 15 million users recorded in January 2020 before the outbreak of the pandemic.

However, the million-dollar question remains: will technology continue playing its role in the post-Covid-19 times?

Speaking separately to The Citizen, technology stakeholders expressed their enthusiasm on the sustainability of technological changes that has taken place in the country.

They referred the outbreak to have stimulated innovation as well as increased investments that would ensure that the new normal sticks for a long haul.


E-learning

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, many schools, colleges and universities were closed around the world while students studying abroad returned home.

This triggered emergence of e-learning platforms as a learning alternatives for students and those engaged in similar professions.

Organizations started providing online training modules to their employees as well as working towards enhancing learning experience.

Smart Class Tanzania co-founder Adam Duma says post pandemic chances are that some of training and learning will continue online because the education sector has been quick in adapting digital technology.

He says the Covid-19 outbreak has improved engagements and people’s awareness in technological advancement.

“This new lifestyle will be maintained post Covid-19 because people have been forced to see technology as a reality. The task can be done remotely and penetrate faster than before,” he said.

Mr Duma says there are also more innovations across the globe than ever before.


Remote Work

Before the pandemic, remote working was an alien concept to many organizations, especially in developing countries like Tanzania.

The pandemic resulted in organisations quickly adapting the work-from-home protocols. And many others are still operating under the policy even after the outbreak’s impacts have generally subsided.

Companies have been made to embrace distance working by investing in video conferencing and communication tools.

In fact, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and others have become the most commonly used words in many households around the country.

Some firms are already planning to shift to flexible workspaces after positive experiences with remote working during the pandemic, a move that will reduce the overall space they need and bring fewer workers into offices each day.

A study by global consulting firm McKinsey & Company found out that office space’s demand will be reduced by 30 percent as more businesses have found effectiveness and fast moving through digital interactions.


Digital Commerce

Economist and social research literate Prof Samuel Wangwe says the pandemic has also facilitated the dominance of technology in the business world.

“E-commerce is the future. However, for better results there is also a need to enhance information, communication and technology (ICT) infrastructure in the country such as a strong internet connection,” says Prof Wangwe.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) also commended the trend towards e-commerce as it is likely to continue throughout the recovery from Covid-19.

In a recent statement Unctad’s acting Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said: “Businesses and consumers that were able to ‘go digital’ have helped to mitigate economic downturn due to the pandemic.”

“But they have also sped up a digital transition that will have lasting impacts on our societies and daily lives – for which not everyone is prepared,” she said.

Moreover she advised that developing countries should not only be consumers, but also active players and thus producers of the digital economy.


Entertainment

Online entertainment, which accelerated amid global Covid-19 lockdowns, is expected to remain high as viewers’ habits continue to be permanent.

May 2020, a Tanzanian Bongo Flava hit maker Nasibu Abdul alias Diamond Platnumz did an incredible virtual performance for MTV, proving that artists can continue doing concerts remotely and capture hearts of fans.

Other entertainment patterns that has increased popularity and expected to remain for a long haul include online film and gaming streaming.

Netflix added more than 26 million new subscribers in the first half of 2020, bringing the global total of over 193 million, released firm’s reports says.

Adoption of online gaming also quickened during the lockdowns with video game companies benefiting from accelerated demand from all over the globe.


History

In a Forbes online article by Saeed Elnaj, it was suggested that looking back at the previous pandemics, changes and new trends have been adopted as the new way of life even after the crises are gone.

He mentioned prior crises that accelerated the adoption of new technologies include the adoption of e-commerce in China after the SARS pandemic in 2005.

Also, the 1980’s pandemic which revolutionized research and innovation in microbiology, clinical infectious diseases and public health.

Despite the uncertainty on when exactly the world would move past Covid-19, it’s clear to say technology and science would remain at the centre of Tanzania’s economy for a long period to come, hence the need to spearhead its influence.