By Imanga Kay
On February 19, the chief at ICT Analysis section of UNCTAD, Torbjörn Fredriksson, visited Bongohive to speak on the topic of “Developing the ICT sector in Zambia.” UNCTAD and BongoHive organised a multi-stakeholder discussion in order to bring to the fore the challenges and opportunities in the ICT Sector in Zambia. Among the participants were representatives from UNICEF, UNZA, Embassy of Sweden, NGOs, entrepreneurs, and civil servants.
The general overview of the event was the awareness that ICT is an undervalued tool for development in Zambia. The information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Zambia is just not vibrant enough. Everybody is working in silos and too preoccupied with their own vision to collaborate. Interestingly, Mr. Fredriksson observed that the case within Government is also of Ministries working in isolation rather than pursuing the same priorities.
The issue isn’t discussing the problems; we all know what they are. All the participants who attended the event could easily point out what was wrong with the system. The million dollar question is, how do we fix it? Trust it could literally be a million dollars, because it might just cost that much to fix the problem, maybe even more!
Listed below are a few points that Mr. Fredriksson shared with the audience:
1. Lack of ICT data, lack of any data at all
2. Need to review global and regional trends
3. Importance of ICT and software capabilities is rising
Prospects for Zambia
* Develop an ICT value-chain
* Effective infrastructure
* Attractive tax policies
* Shared vision among government agencies- work horizontally and vertically
* Data, data, data – collection and dissemination of data
There needs to be a localization of opportunities even when it comes to approaching multinationals like Airtel Zambia or MTN Zambia. The formation or resurrection of an association will create a platform for ICT advocacy to the government and ICT users. UNCTAD’s overall aim is to promote the development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. Mr. Fredriksson emphasized that UNCTAD’s role is to assist the Government with achieving the country’s development policy priorities.
Imanga Kay is a tech enthusiast and a writer at Manic, an information blog focusing on covering technology, sports, health, and society news in Zambia and the surrounding region.