The government is set to strengthen Tanzania’s performance on the digital front by investing more in scaling up the digital economy and providing a conducive environment to enable e-commerce businesses to thrive.
This digital focus has prompted the government to come up with the national digital economy blueprint that is yet to be rolled out.
This was revealed yesterday by minister for Communications and Information Technology, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, during a meeting with Tanzania Editors Forum and other media stakeholders in Dodoma.
Dr Ndugulile said the government is well aware of the global digital shift and the role of digital economy towards improving the wider national economy. “As the ministry vested with spearheading Tanzania towards the digital path, we are prepared and are already building enabling infrastructure in this endeavour,” said the minister, adding; “Most business transactions today are conducted online. People no longer rent big spaces in markets such as Kariakoo, they run online stores and provide services to their customers remotely. That is why it is important for us to come up with a digital economy blueprint strategy that will create space for ease of doing business.”
Dr Ndugulile talked about his ministry’s move to digitise accessibility to most government services through the model known as Financial Inclusion through Digital Inclusion. “We want citizens to access government services with ease – online, this includes paying for services and being able to contact public servants. This will streamline service delivery and provide more efficiency,” he said.
In order to achieve the government’s digital strategy, Dr Ndugulile said one of the main areas of focus is to strengthen Tanzania’s Information Technology capability. “The government is heavily investing in improving connectivity across the country. We have a 2025 digital development goal where all regions in Tanzania will be covered by clear network connectivity. As a result, we invested Sh677 billion that will finance the national optic fibre network project that is still underway,” he revealed.
So far, the ambitious national optic fibre project has covered over 8,000kms across the country, with the ultimate goal of reaching 15,000km. With such connectivity, all regions in Tanzania will be covered hence enabling clear connectivity that will see improved communication even in the most remote of areas in the county. This move by the government is also influenced by security concerns. Dr Ndugulile highlighted the fact that regions in Tanzania’s peripherals are poorly connected. He said that when one travels to regions located in the country’s edges, they are welcomed by telecommunication networks of neighbouring countries, even more worrying, according to the minister, is the fact that radio frequencies received in such areas are from neighbouring nations.
“It is a concern to us that Tanzanians who reside in peripheral regions receive radio frequencies of neighbouring states. This means that if anything were to happen between us and the neighbouring country, it would be easier for that country to use their radio stations to spew propaganda in Tanzania,” said the minister.
He thus stated that the government, through the national optic fibre network project will strengthen connectivity across the country, hence enabling wider access of local radio frequencies, but also telecommunications networks.
“Our goal is to become a regional hub for excellence in Information Technology and connectivity. We want to serve neighbouring countries in East and Central Africa,” said the minister.
The government’s plan is to see broadband internet connection reach 80 percent by 2025 -this translates to internet efficiency of around 2 megabytes per second.
According to Dr Ndugulile, Tanzania has 54 million phone users, with the number of internet users currently standing at 24 million.