Tanzania harnesses power of digitalisation to promote growth, peace

DAR ES SALAAM: AS Tanzania navigates a path towards increased digitalisation, the East African nation focuses on educating and engaging all citizens on the use of technology so that they acquire civic education that guarantees peace and economic growth envisioned by the country.

Speaking at the 10th Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) meeting in Dar es Salaam, on Thursday, the Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Nape Nnauye said Tanzania will not remain behind in educating its nationals on the benefits of going digital, saying digitalisation is a vehicle in delivering development.

Minister Nape noted that the government will reach out to all citizens from the grassroots so that they keep pace with requirements in the modern world.

“Digitalisation speeds up development, helps economic growth, brings people closer together and enables better use of resources, but as we go digital, we must also realise what our culture as Tanzanians is, what is good for our children, what is good for Africa as a whole, because we have a culture as Africans,” the Minister said.

“We must go digital, but we must keep in mind that the digital technology we use should not give freedom to push our country to witness ugly scenes witnessed in other countries, which took peace for granted in the name of worshiping and spreading technology,” he emphasised.

Nape said that it is the constitutional right of every Tanzanian to be updated on what is going on in the country and that can only be done with ease and accuracy when the country is digitally connected regardless of the geographical location of others in rural areas.

In a related development, Mr Nape pointed out that as the country readies for local government elections next year, it is the government’s plan that those opting to vote digitally will be considered, because all their information will be traced to minimise physical queueing, where not necessary.

Citing an analogy of purchasing goods and money transfer, which are done digitally, the minister noted that the same technology could be used to mobilise the citizens to know their democratic rights and maintain peace.

His idea was supported by his Uganda Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, who said: “As a ministry we recognise the value of digital security and economy, especially as more activities move to online and individuals increasingly provide more personal information for various purposes.

“As a government, we also value digital security because many vital services, such as healthcare, education and government operations, rely on digital systems. Protecting these systems as well as the nation’s critical infrastructure, government institutions, from cyber-attacks is essential for ensuring uninterrupted service delivery.

Digital security is fundamental for Africa’s continued development, ensuring that the benefits of the digital age are accessible to all while mitigating risks associated with an increasingly connected world. It plays a pivotal role in protecting individuals, communities and the broader society from a wide range of digital threats,” Dr Baryomunsi said.

He further said that many states in Africa have ramped up their digitalisation efforts in a bid to enhance social, economic and political transformation.

“These efforts reflect the continued commitments by African States at improving access to information, innovative strategies, inclusion, privacy and data protection and collaborative initiatives employed by media organisations, tech companies, civil society and governments to safeguard the integrity and opportunities of the information society,” he said.

The Forum convened with over 400 participants from across 40 countries and Members of Parliament from Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Uganda was the tenth with previous editions hosted in Ghana, Ethiopia (2019), South Africa, the Slovenia Presidency of the European Union (2021) and Zambia (2022).

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