Silicon Zanzibar: Government in talks with 180 investors

What you need to know:

  • Silicon Zanzibar is the envisaged digital hub that the Zanzibar government wants to establish in the islands to diversify its economy.

Zanzibar. About 180 companies have expressed interest in investing in Information Communication and Technology (ICT) in Zanzibar, raising hopes for the creation of Silicon Zanzibar.

Silicon Zanzibar is the envisaged digital hub that the Zanzibar government wants to establish in the islands to diversify its economy.

The director of the Zanzibar Startups Association, Ikram Ramadhan Soraga, made this revelation on Tuesday, October 31, 2023, during the Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF) held at the Golden Tulip Zanzibar Airport hotel.

Mr Soraga said the 180 companies have been impressed by the commitment and the political will that have been shown by the government of Zanzibar in the area of ICT development.

“About 71 hectares have been set aside for willing investors. Already some firms have started operations,” he said at the MTLF that was held for the first time in Zanzibar with the theme Spotlight On 3 Years of Dr Mwinyi: Achievements, Opportunities and Challenges.

He pointed out that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) presents numerous opportunities for Zanzibar, given its island status. The main benefit is driving economic growth by shifting greater attention to the service industry.

“We can’t run Zanzibar’s economy through manufacturing industries. ICTs have huge potential for the Islands,” he said.

He noted that there are huge opportunities in the areas of financial technology, e-commerce, and online businesses that require formalization.

“Investors can tap investment opportunities in the areas of database and data bank creation,” he added.

Mr Soraga noted that startups expected the government to formulate good policies, laws, regulations, and systems that would enhance economic growth and business prosperity, such as e-procurements, e-offices, and so forth.

According to him, his association was now talking with the responsible authorities in order to come up with a startup policy.

He underscored and commended the investment made by the India Institute of Technology (IIT) in Zanzibar. He said that as one of the best such institutions in the world, IIT could help transform IT skills in Zanzibar, making the island a digital hub in the East African region.

Outlining the challenges facing the sector, Mr Soraga said that financially, challenges remain rampant despite the government’s ongoing empowerment efforts.

“The solution for other challenges has been outlined in the area of infrastructure development through improving the National Broadband and optical fibres,” he said.

He said higher costs of internet connectivity impede citizens from benefiting from technological advancements.