“Embracing e-adoption is terrific news for Tanzania”

How would you define e-content in Tanzania?

All information which can be carried by a medium, either ‘classical’ (mass media) or through the Internet and related technologies like mobile, DVD, CD etc.


“On the dimension of access, Tanzania has moved with mixed results”

What’s the status of e-content in Tanzania?

Continuing embracing e-Adoption is terrific news for Tanzania. In this case the nation’s prosperity can be easily achieved by appropriately deploying the use of Information and Communication and Technology in Tanzania. Tanzania has adopted the usage of new technologies “e-usage” to migrate to higher value added products and services that will lead to higher paying jobs and increased prosperity for Tanzanian citizens. The country is in the learning stage of how to use Information and Communication Technology to become more competitive through productivity and efficiency gains.
On the dimension of access, Tanzania has moved with mixed results. Although fixed and mobile tele-densities are some of the lowest in Sub Saharan African, the increasing use of mobiles has compensated a little for the slow growth in fixed-line telephony. During 1997-2002, fixed lines grew at a compounded annual rate of 9% but there was still less than one telephone user per 100 inhabitants in the country.

On the contrary, the compound annual growth rate in mobile telephony has dramatically increased to more than 100% over the 1997-2002 periods, resulting in overall mobile tele-density of almost 2%.

An example of the challenges faced in developing software locally is found with one of the more successful ICT service firms in Tanzania, Soft-Tech Consultants. Soft-Tech’s first major project was developing banking software for the National Bureau de Change. The private sector firms don’t have the client mix and confirm data that shows that SMEs are not broadly adopting ICT.

The Ministry of Education and Culture in Tanzania (MoEC) in collaboration with Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) is promoting the introduction of ICT at the ordinary and advanced level secondary education sector. They are doing so by testing a thin client system through the LINUX Terminal Server Project for K-12 schools initiative
Within Tanzania, there are not only access and ability issues that must be overcome, but also a lack of awareness of the benefits that ICT can have on businesses. Many local business people conduct their affairs in a very traditional manner without knowledge of ICT tools that could make them and their operations more productive. SMEs in Tanzania have been slow to adopt ICT even as a means for communication.

Which area of e-content (e-health, e-biz, e-culture, e-government, e-entertainment, e-learning, e-science, and e-inclusion) is best developed in your country?

E-Business and e-government are the more advanced areas in e-content in Tanzania.

Which sector (business, private sector, government or civil society) in Tanzania is advanced in developing e-content?

It is in the business and the private sector that e-content has so far found maximum application.
Though e-Adoption in Tanzania does not indicate effective usage, one meaningful measure of ICT adoption is the amount of investment in ICT made by SMEs. Of the sectors surveyed, SMEs in the tourism sector made the most investment in ICT.

Sharing with Other People Network (SWOPNet) has perhaps the most comprehensive database of ICT initiatives within Tanzania. It becomes apparent while searching the SWOPNet site, that the majority of initiatives to date have been centred towards increasing access and awareness. The project database is divided into many categories: Education, Health, Livelihood, Connectivity, e-Governance and Information Sharing.

In the same way that private sector enterprises adopted use of ICTs to manage operations or have a better understanding of customer needs, the Government of Tanzania adopted ICT to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively in the services it provided to firms and citizens.
Making information readily available to citizens is a move being adopted broadly, from descriptions of legislation, tax codes, bills proposed in parliament to interactive transactions, applications for documents, benefits, etc. Tanzania’s efforts in this regard are illustrated in the Parliamentary Online Information System.

Also, in 1997 the Government of Tanzania began upgrading its payroll system that was viewed as outdated, not Y2K compliant, and not secure to a new system.

How would you describe the gradual progress of development of e-content in Tanzania?
E-content in Tanzania is still in its infancy stage. A lot more has to be done to make it more relevant and user friendly. The ground level work in terms of ICT infrastructure is an issue that will require greater attention.

What major initiatives have influenced the development of e-content in Tanzania?
Tanzania has achieved notable progress in deploying ICT notwithstanding the 1974 Prohibition Order on Electronic Computers and Television Sets. The achievements were a result of various adjustments since the early 90s in policy, regulatory and commercial facets, both macroeconomic and within ICT’s converging sectors.

Tanzania was the first country in East Africa to put in place a blue print to guide the adoption and development of ICT in March 2003 through the National Information and Communications Technologies Policy. The vision statement of the policy is for “Tanzania to become a hub of ICT infrastructure and ICT solutions that enhance sustainable socio-economic development and accelerated poverty reduction both nationally and globally”.

“Tanzania was the first country in East Africa to put in place a blue print to guide the adoption and development of ICT ”

The policy’s broad objective is to provide a national framework that enables the sector to contribute towards achieving national development goals by exploiting ICT opportunities in a sustainable way. The policy addresses several areas including leadership, infrastructure, legal and regulatory framework, productive and service sectors and universal access.

What are the major bottlenecks in the path of e-content development in your country?

“Low level of awareness
“Infrastructure in terms of ICT access and readiness
“General socio-economic environment
“Less active role of the authorities and other parties

In most countries, especially developing, e-content development is significantly dependent on ICT infrastructure and ICT facilities. But, in some, ICT has become pervasive and e-content development is primarily subjected to the initiatives of an individual/organization/government, etc. What is the situation in Tanzania?

ICT infrastructure in Tanzania is still in its nascent phase. Much has to be done in this area especially by the government to make e-content a happening event in the country.

How would you describe the ICT scenario in Tanzania in terms of infrastructure, penetration, and policies?

Following the vision of the ICT Policy for Tanzania to “become a hub of ICT infrastructure” and in response to the fragmented infrastructure initiatives currently underway in the country, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority issued “A Report on the Status of the National ICT Infrastructure” in November 2004 with a follow up technical report concluded in June 2005. With a GDP per capita of US$ 381, it is imperative that the country conserve its scarce financial resources and not duplicate efforts in constructing a national ICT infrastructure.

The primary focus of regulation in Tanzania has been on convergence issues, which refers to the extent to which similarities exist among IT, telecommunications and other forms of media in such areas as content, infrastructure and networks. The nucleus of current debates focus on two issues:

” The convergence of broadcast media and telecommunications, and;
” The trend in some countries towards multi-sector utility regulation.

What’s the future of e-content in Tanzania?

Future of e-content depends on the level and reach of ICT and its effective use. Realizing the promise of ICT in an economy like Tanzania requires not simply its adoption, but also its usage in relevant and appropriate ways. The government, and specifically the Ministry of Communications, has made progressive reforms in telecoms and ICT deployment, but still has a long way to go in incorporating the private sector in prioritizing investments.

Though few firms and government institutions have adopted and integrated ICT into their business strategies, the benefits of e-content and ICT will be realized by improving competitiveness in the productive sectors in Tanzania. This will require firms, institutions and sectors to develop complex strategies that are not easily imitable. ICT penetration and usage in the private sector will help firms that implement these strategies grow.

Which is the most preferred medium for e-content production in your country?

Radio, TV, community radio, Internet in that order.

How do you recognize and appreciate e-content producers and best practices in Tanzania?

There is no such process being initiated in the country so far. Actually all this depends on the level of use of ICT in various sectors of the society and economy. But surely Tanzania is moving in the right direction.

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