The country is making its mark in the field of IT, positioning itself as a significant player on the African continent. With an estimated GDP growth of 6.3% in 2024, the country is undergoing an ICT digital transformation that promises to drive further economic growth.
The expansion of network coverage, the introduction of high-speed internet services, and the establishment of a National ICT Broadband Backbone have laid a solid foundation for the country’s digital future. This interview with Nape Moses Nnauye, the Minister of Information and Technology in Tanzania, offers insights into his visionary leadership and his determination to make Tanzania a technological powerhouse in Africa.
- Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your role as the Minister of Information and Technology in Tanzania?
My name is Nape Moses Nnauye. I’m a Member of Parliament for the Mtama constituency in Lindi region, Tanzania, bordering Mozambique. With more than 21 years of experience in national and international politics, I serve as the Minister for Information, Communication, and Information Technology. In my role, I oversee policy formulation and implementation in various areas, including information, telecommunications, IT and postal services, mass media coordination and regulation, research development and innovation in ICT, ICT professional development, establishment of post codes and addressing system, national ICT broadband backbone, and safety and ICT security.
- What motivated you to pursue a career in information and technology, and how did you get started in this field?
As a politician, I embraced the social capital of social media, igniting my interest in information technology. Despite lacking a professional IT background, I was inspired by its contagiousness and future prospects, fueling my passion. Now as the Minister of ICT, I drive the widespread adoption of ICT, contributing to Tanzania’s digital economy.
- How do you think advancements in technology can drive economic growth and social development in Tanzania?
ICT fuels Tanzania’s economic growth through expanded network coverage, enabling high-speed internet, mobile broadband, e-commerce, and e-government, creating economic opportunities for enhanced communication, information access, and cultural exchange.
- What are some of the major challenges facing the information and technology sector in Tanzania currently, and how do you plan to address them?
A dedicated content committee raises awareness on issues on false information and limited broadband access. Acts like the Cybercrimes Act, E-Transactions Act, and the recent Personal Data Protection Act of 2022 address technology challenges. Our National Cybersecurity Strategy and ongoing ICT awareness initiatives combat cybercrimes and bridge the digital divide, while soft centers under the Digital Tanzania Programme reduce foreign technology dependency and foster skilled labor.
- What are some of the key initiatives or policies you have implemented to promote the adoption and use of technology in Tanzania?
These are the National ICT Policy 2016, National Broadband Strategy, National Digital Economy Framework, National Cybersecurity Strategy, Enactment of the Personal Data Protection Act of 2022, and Development of the National Guideline to Regulatory Sandbox Framework.
- How do you ensure that access to technology is equitable and inclusive, particularly for marginalized communities?
We prioritize inclusivity, considering diverse groups such as gender, people with special needs, and fair treatment across ethnic categories. Our Universal Communication Services Access Fund (UCSAF) ensures technology access for underserved areas, while bridging the digital divide.
- Can you share a specific example of a successful technology project or program that you have implemented in Tanzania?
Video conference systems that enable remote participation in meetings for regional commissioners and central ministries. Also, the National Physical Addressing (NaPA) system ensures accurate navigation and robust e-commerce infrastructure.
- How do you balance the need for innovation and progress with concerns around data privacy and cybersecurity?
Tanzania’s cybersecurity legislations, including the Cybercrimes Act, E-Transactions Act and Personal Data Protection Act protect data privacy and [promote] cybersecurity, while the Digital Economy Framework focuses on innovation and human capital development, addressing data privacy and cybersecurity concerns.
- What is your vision for the future of the information and technology sector in Tanzania?
It is to build an ICT-enabled knowledge society and a highly developed digitally-enabled economy in a secure and trusted cyberspace, which would make Tanzania an attractive destination for investment and innovation.
- How do you collaborate with other government officials, stakeholders, and international partners to achieve your goals?
Holistic stakeholder involvement is crucial for the ICT sector’s effectiveness. We prioritize extensive consultations with diverse stakeholders, including government agencies, private sector, civil society, NGOs, donor partners, and the international community.
- How do you support and encourage the growth of the local tech industry in Tanzania?
Our National ICT Policy focuses on nurturing Tanzania’s tech industry. We collaborate with the Tanzania Start-up Association to support startups and address their challenges through targeted policy interventions. The Regulatory Sandbox Framework guideline fosters the growth of ICT solutions with sector-specific regulatory sandboxes.
- What are some of the latest technology trends that you believe will have a significant impact on Tanzania’s economy and society?
Our National Digital Economy Framework embraces key technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: cybersecurity, cloud computing, and AI. They yield significant benefits in healthcare, energy, education. We also focus on research and investment in emerging technologies like 3D printing, augmented reality, IoT, and blockchain.
- How do you ensure that Tanzania keeps up with the pace of technological change and remains competitive globally?
I coordinate continuous training of my staff and the local workforce in digital technology skills. We actively seek partnerships with Regional Economic Communities, international organizations and technologically-advanced countries.
- What are some of the key lessons you have learned during your time as the Minister of Information and Technology?
I focus on grasping public sentiment and industry needs to drive digital economy growth, while countering misconceptions and safeguarding the government’s image through active public engagement.
- How do you engage with the public to gather feedback and ensure that your policies are meeting their needs and expectations?
I advocate an open-door policy, encouraging input from staff, constituents, and citizens via multiple channels. Suggestion boxes in ministry offices gather feedback on services and staff interactions, while regular evaluations and quarterly reports ensure projects meet public and stakeholder needs.
To sum up, Nape Moses Nnauye reveals his unwavering commitment to driving Tanzania’s digital future by focusing on technology and its transformative capabilities. Guided by comprehensive government policies, strategies and strong collaborations, Tanzania has set ambitious goals for technology adoption and digital transformation. By striking a balance between innovation and protection, Tanzania creates a conducive ecosystem for technology-driven growth, setting the potential for further development of the African continent.