Despite having very low per capita income, Tanzania is preparing to reposition itself in the global network economy. Bold steps are being taken to leverage the benefits of ICT for its national priorities of growth and poverty reduction. Key actions include: the creation of an e-secretariat, including key stakeholders to create supportive leadership for ICT development; communications infrastructure improvements, both in the capital city and in secondary towns; and restructuring of the financial sector to sustain a more market-driven economy. As it prepares for the shocks associated with the transition from an agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based economy, Tanzania hopes to illustrate that starting off on the right foot is the key to leapfrogging or "antelope-jumping" many stages of ICT development.
Policy: In 1995, Tanzania established an independent regulatory commission by separating the operations of the Tanzania Telecommunication Company from its regulatory functions. This led to the deregulation of the telecommunications market, and the government sale of 30 percent of its stake to international and local consortia companies. The government plans to sell more of its shares in the Tanzania Telecommunication Company, which is already a tax-paying, profit-seeking enterprise with over 70 percent market share.
In 1999, Tanzania started an e-think tank to bring together different Tanzanian stakeholders, including the government, for the purpose of discussing ICT benefits and formulating National ICT strategies. Recently, an e-secretariat was designated to coordinate the activities of the e-think tank. Its mission will be to offer ICT leadership by utilizing policy changes and supporting related developments aimed at enabling Tanzanians to participate effectively in the modern Internet-based global economy. The initial priority area is the development of a policy roadmap. The government is also formulating an ICT strategy which will become a de facto ICT framework to help Tanzania's public, private and community organizations embrace the benefits of ICT use, while positioning businesses in the local and global economy.
Infrastructure: Undergoing rapid modernization, the capital city, Dar es Salaam, has seen dramatic improvements in the local core network infrastructure. Recent advances, which are increasing the opportunity for residents of Tanzania to obtain access to information, have been funded by local venture capitalists. Advances include: new digital exchanges; two cellular networks with nearly 40,000 subscribers; half a dozen new ISPs, and pay phones at post offices. While there has been rapid improvement in infrastructure, network access in areas outside Dar es Salaam is still very limited and teledensity remains extremely low.
The US$250 million donor-funded Tanzanian Telecommunications Restructuring Programme (TRP), responsible for much of the improvement in Dar es Salaam, will also improve the links to many secondary towns and meet the increasing demand for reliable services in the urban and rural areas. A portion of these funds will be allocated to the replacement of outdated magneto telephone exchanges with automatic ones throughout the country.
Enterprise: Tanzanias development has been funded by donations rather than foreign direct investment. By deregulating its telecommunications market, Tanzania has been able to attract international operators by issuing licenses for a fee, but other industries have not yet seen much investment due to the need for both policy and procedural reforms.
Until recently, Tanzania had been solely reliant on exporting its agricultural products to Africa and Europe. A number of ISPs are now offering Internet trading to farmers and other businesses to sell their products around the world. The government has embarked on an effort to improve the business environment through the revision of the regulatory and tax regimes to stimulate private sector-led growth. As part of its effort to attract investment and promote small and medium-sized business development, Tanzania is helping with the development of entrepreneurial business management skills through training and technical assistance to small business associations. Tanzania has successfully restructured the financial sector, resulting in an increase in the number of private financial institutions and a more market-oriented business sector.
Human Capacity: A 20-year prohibition on importing computers has adversely impacted workers' development in ICT skills. Training centers that focus on the development of ICT knowledge workers are only now beginning to emerge. For example, Soft Tech Training Centre, established in 1993, is committed to the development of local expertise through ICT skills enhancement.
Tanzania has placed a short-term emphasis on the urgent need to develop ICT skills, rather than enhance the primary education system. To this end, Tanzania has created different programs, with the help of international donors, to focus on the different segments of human development. The World Bank has donated up to US$1.2 million to deliver distance-learning programs through satellite technology, helping to promote knowledge workers and technology users generally within Tanzania.
Content and Applications: The government has initiated plans to launch a campaign to encourage Tanzanians to develop and propagate content that is relevant to local interests and social values. Tanzania has also implemented several ICT applications relevant to its national objectives. Examples of such initiatives include an information system to strengthen the capacity of wildlife institutions and a computerized case flow management system that has facilitated an increase in transparency and professionalism in the judiciary system.
Strategic Compact: Tanzania's pioneering eSecretariat brings together a diverse set of stakeholders to contribute to ICT policy development. Compact members are also expected to play a critical role in the follow-up and implementation of the national e-strategy currently under design. At the global level, the international community fully endorses Tanzania's economic and institutional reform effort, as evidenced by an expanded level of support from donors, NGOs, and private investors. Private sector organizations, including international consultancies and leading technology firms, have joined the public-private partnership to advance national development goals.
© 2001 Accenture, Markle Foundation, United Nations Development Programme.
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