Tanzania goes digital

PRESIDENT Dr Samia Suluhu has issued five key directives which will see Tanzania arrive at an inclusive digital economy, including each citizen acquiring a compulsory unique personal identifier.

The unique personal identifier is a number which will be issued to every Tanzanian from the time of birth, enabling people to have access to a full range of services sought within the country. An example of the information includes hospital name, time of birth, sex, weight and many others.

Dr Samia disclosed this after launching Airtel 5G and 2Africa Cable Landing Station in Dar es Salaam, yesterday describing the event as an important step in the development of the communication sector.

As the longest subsea cable in the world with a length of 45,000km, the technology is envisioned to connect Tanzania with the rest of the continent as well as the Asia and Europe, connecting 33 countries.

“It was a long dream for Tanzania but today, we are there by the power of public private partnership (PPP). Tanzanians will now witness affordable, quality and impactful internet services,” said President Samia.

Thus, President Samia directed Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa to supervise the issue of introducing a compulsory unique personal identifier in the country.

“Through that particular number, an individual’s information can be accessed by any institution whenever they want to access services like banks, health and schools… the information should be able to tally,” noted Dr Samia.

With the current status whereby the databases of various institutions possess varying individual information, President Samia described it as detrimental to the security of the country.

She added: “We want to know who is who, be it a resident or foreigner…this will help ease the identification of people as well as reduce the hurdle of people finding a chain of supporting documentation.”

Based on this, she tasked the government and individuals to ensure all information provided during registration of the National Identification number was genuine. Such will also ease the role of the National Identification Authority (NIDA) in the issuance of national identification numbers.

Dr Samia also tasked the Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology in collaboration with other ministries and institutions responsible for supervision of the ICT policy, to ensure integration of all ICT systems in the government.

The President maintained that she wanted to see results because this was not the first time she gave a similar order.

As per the Tanzania Regulatory Authority (TCRA) statistics, registered mobile and landline SIM cards in Tanzania accounted for 61,879,725, whereby mobile phones were 61,795,208 of which 73 per cent use 2G technology and the remaining 27 per cent comprises of devices employing 3G, 4G and 5G technologies.

She tasked the PM, responsible authorities and e-government to oversee that effective use of the technologies is prioritised in the country, stressing on the need for an assessment which will identify what is needed to arrive at the course.

“If the challenge is on training, then the government should build capacity for its executives. This will save the government from many things including loss of information, including boosting efficiency in the institutions,” she said.

She added: “We can’t be singing the same song of inclusive digital economy while our offices are still employing the same traditional methods in their operations. I urge other communication providers to emulate what Airtel is doing by providing smartphone loans.”

President Samia called upon the companies to come up with a mechanism of lending the gadgets to government institutions, to fast track the country’s bold move of reaching an inclusive digital economy.

President Samia also directed the Ministry of Information to fast-track the process of carrying out a study which will suggest indicative prices of SMS, data and calls for the period between 2023/2027. The study will enable the country to reconcile its findings with the current development of the 5G network in the country.

Similarly, the ministry should also come up with a strategy of installing free WIFI services in important areas like universities and business centres famously known as Machinga complexes.

“My appeal to the small-scale traders is to use the services for their own benefits and businesses rather than engaging in trivial things,” she urged.

Airtel Group Chief Executive Officer, Dr Olusegun Ogunsanya pledged to continue investment in the country’s communication, construct 100 smart classes and connect 3,000 secondary schools with free high speed 4G wireless data network.

The government was taking concrete measures to ensure an inclusive digital economy within the country, the goal being to improve the lives of people in both rural and urban areas.

Earlier, former President Dr Jakaya Kikwete appeared as a hologram from the University of Dar es Salaam venue where other dignitaries and other people had gathered for the event.

Dr Kikwete applauded President Samia for arriving at the crucial milestone, noting that development requires 5G technologies coupled with innovation, expressing enthusiasm for the students at UDSM.

For his part, Mr Majaliwa expressed government commitment to continue encouraging investment in technologies by welcoming more investors.

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