Realising the dream of one connected Tanzania

Posted on September 25, 2015 12:00 am

Over the last two decades,United Republic of Tanzania has been collectively moving towards the goal of becoming a developed, middle income nation by the year 2025. As the country approach the final ten years of this target, technology plays a critical role in achieving the country’s ambition. This is especially from the exponential increase in devices connected to the Internet, the Internet of Everything,and the decisions enabled by big data and analytics, which is transforming Tanzania from a mineral resource-based to a knowledge-based economy. In order to truly establish a progressive and sustainable society, Tanzanians need to look at how, as citizens and their businesses, benefit from connecting the previously unconnected infrastructure not just to lift the game, but also bring the country together as it has done since it got independence. Having been familiar with the country itself for more than half a decade, have identified come up with three enablers that will play a critical role in developing and solidifying a connected Tanzania whose population is currently estimated at 50 million.

Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania in a photo I took in 2013 near Maili sita area in Moshi
Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in a photo I took two years ago in Maili sita near Moshi

When you peruse the country’s budget presented by Finance minster Saada Mkuya June this year reflects a country full of aspiration, with digital advancements being a key component of its developing targets.Tapping into the economic value around these increased connections will depend on the capacity and infrastructure of the country’s national networks.The current plans solidifies aspirations with targets of having broadband infrastructure established in 50% of populated areas, along with its affordability targeting 0.5% of gross national income per capita for fixed broadband cost. The collective aim of these targets addresses the crucial need to improve coverage, quality, and affordability of digital infrastructure. Social Innovation is about harnessing the power of technology to enable everyone to participate and benefit from the transformation and the digitisation of Tanzania. A key element in achieving aspirations for a connected Tanzania is developing human capital.According to a Study, by 2017, there will be a skills gap of over 1,000 networking professionals across the country including Zanzibar Island. As we countdown to the elections 2015,the country’s aim to export Tanzania talent to the rest of East Africa will depend on its workforce’s future ready skills.Tanzania’s aspirations for digitally advanced infrastructures will also result in the development of innovative applications and solutions by Tanzanians.

The value gained from our steady adoption of big data and analytics allows entrepreneurs and developers to drive new applications and services, while also enabling the public sector to meet the needs of citizens.With this, entrepreneurship remains a budget priority for the country as announced by President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete recently.This will be a core strategy to move Tanzania forward while stakeholders should be ready in pursuit of a thriving start-up landscape, supported and spearheaded by organisations with initiatives in Arusha, Dar Es Salaam and Mwanza.With such innovation-focused ecosystem, I find multinational companies investing in local start-ups and SMEs.These partnerships and platforms indicate the growing trust in Tanzania’s capacity to disrupt industries and spur new businesses, keeping the country competitive.As Tanzania progresses, the adoption of technologies creates platforms that allow greater interaction and the sharing of knowledge, therefore pulling the country closer as a connected community. Sustainable development programs and social enterprises need also to be supported by local crowdfunding platforms.Such developments reflect Tanzania social progress and echo vision 2025 to establish a social system around community care. The role technology is just the start in empowering citizens, businesses and communities.I am excited to see how technology will cultivate innovative enterprises, nurture connected communities and empower every level of society in order to make Tanzania’s vision 2025 ambitions a reality.

Contador Harrison