Zanzibar seeks to become digital freezone

Zanzibar President Hussein Mwinyi

What you need to know:

  • More than 30 nnovative and investor companies met on the isles to show how they could work together in order to make Zanzibar an investment hub on the Internet

Unguja.The Zanzibar Government, through the Zanzibar ICT Infrastructure Agency (ZICTIA), is preparing four projects on information and technology.

More than 30 innovative and investor companies met on the isles to show how they could work together in order to make Zanzibar an investment hub on the Internet.

The projects include establishing an international gateway from Mombasa, building a data centre and a digital freezone, whereby the activities are already being carried out to bring the companies together.

Traditionally, Zanzibar has been running its economy largely depending on tourism.

Now it wants to change the direction and seek investment in the IT sector in order to create job opportunities and increase the nation’s income.

In a three-day meeting organised by ZICTIA in collaboration with other companies including Threefold, the companies showed how technology was being used to make cities grow.

Zanzibar President Dr Hussein Mwinyi said the companies will help develop local skills and bring about major changes in the ICT sector.

He promised his government will provide the necessary support needed to ensure that the goals are achieved.

 “We have the areas of policy, registration and guidelines where we can support to ensure what is needed by investors to meet their needs.

"I will be happy to work as a team to ensure every necessary change in policy, authority and registration in order to make Zanzibar digital freezone. We need a strong international gateway infrastructure, sub marine cable data centre and fibre optic network across the country. We are happy to work with the private sector in all these sectors," said Dr Mwinyi.

ZICTIA executive director Shukuru Hawadh Suleiman said in investing in digital freezones, Zictia expects to acquire 3,000 hectares, where a cyber city will be built for big companies to invest in.

He said currently there is the Threefold Company that mainly aims to promote small innovate entrepreneurs.

Threefold Company founder, Kristof de Spiegeleer said of Zanzibar that it is not only a good place for investment, but also it is a place to easily bring about change and that is why they have come up with the internet in digital freezone project.

"The internet is everything for now, it is being used for learning, communicating and various innovations. The special economic zone is one area that offers everything through a digital way.

“You cannot bring more than one million people to Zanzibar to do shopping, but through digitalisation you can bring them and improve the economy," he said

Mr Gary Sheng from Zuzalu said Zanzibar was a good place for investment because of the peacefulness of its people.

He said that there was an easy way to bring about changes in Zanzibar unlike other countries where there are obstacles even from the government.