Tanzania recognises the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector as a key accelerator to development. It has made tremendous progress liberalising this sector. Cyber cafés are mushrooming in Tanzanian cities and the Tanzanian government has set itself the ambitious goal to make the East African nation a hub for ICT infrastructure. With the recent landing of two international submarine fibreoptic cables, EASSy and Seacom, which link Tanzania to the global high-speed telecommunications network, this plan seems to be taking shape. Hosting eLearning Africa 2011 is an opportunity for Tanzania to highlight both the progress that has already been made and its exciting plans for the future.
ICT policy and development
Tanzania has taken major steps forward in creating policy and legislative structures to anchor growth and development of ICT. The government’s national ICT Policy, launched in 2003, articulates a range of focus areas that will aid optimal use of ICT in the country. These include strategic ICT leadership, ICT infrastructure, human capital, legal and regulatory frameworks and universal access.
Moreover, Tanzania’s economic development blueprint, ‘Vision 2025,’ recognises the ICT sector as a key accelerator for all national development efforts. According to the strategic plan, broad-based application of ICT in both the public and private sectors is a key to fostering economic growth, peace and stability and improving the quality of life.
Tanzania ranks among those leading African countries which have made tremendous progress in liberalising the ICT sector. Novatech, a leading UK-based IT and telecommunications solutions provider, confirms that the country has opened up the market to attract a wide array of players in both the public and private sector domain. A number of bi- and multilateral agencies interested in financing development in this field agree that it has the potential for solid growth. The Regulatory Agency oversees the entire telecom sector in critical areas, such as licensing providers, distributing frequencies and protecting consumers from unfair practices by the industry whilst encouraging competition in a liberalised market.
As a consequence of the liberalisation, the cost of the Internet in Tanzania is now lower and the quality is higher than that of other East African countries, notably Kenya and Uganda.
Infrastructure, access and connectivity
Tanzania has recently become connected to the global high speed broadband network.
In August 2010, the submarine East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) reached Dar es Salaam, and managers started offering commercial services by pledging to revolutionise broadband communication in the country. EASSy is the second fibreoptic cable to land in Tanzania after Seacom (July 2009). Plans are underway to have broadband Internet installed in Tanzania’s major cities too.
Despite the progress in connectivity, overall access to ICT services remains a challenge, and connection is limited to urban areas. There are 520,000 Internet users – or 1,3 per cent of the population (as of June 2009), according to Internet World Usage Statistics.
As for mobile phones, the 2009 International Telecommunications Union report says Tanzania has the fourth highest number of subscribers, after Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. Within eight years, the number of subscribers in Tanzania has increased from less than 300,000 to over 14 million, translating to 25 per cent penetration. (Neighbouring Kenya had 45.7 per cent penetration.)
A report by Business Monitor International (2009) calculates that mobile phone penetration in Tanzania will reach the 100 per cent mark by the year 2013.
[callout title=United Republic of Tanzania]Capital: Dodoma
Other cities: Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Tanga, Zanzibar, Mbeya, Arusha, Morogoro
Population: 41.3 million (UNDP 2009)
Literacy rate: Female 65.9%, male 79.0% (UNDP 2009)
Official Languages: English, Kiswahili
GDP per capita: US $443 (IMF 2009)[/callout]
ICT in education
Tanzania has more cyber cafés than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa: over 1000, according to the Tanzanian government. In Dar es Salaam and other cities and towns there are cyber cafés on every corner, showing the growing popularity of the Net.
[callout title=Tanzania – Recent History]
The United Republic of Tanzania was founded in 1964, shortly after the Tanganyika Territory, as it was then known, attained independence from the colonial power, Great Britain.
After independence, the country’s founding president, the late Julius Nyerere, championed socialist principles in the predominantly agricultural economy.
However, the programme resulted in a tumultuous social economic situation due to inefficiency, corruption and resistance from farmers, pushing the country’s population into abject poverty.
Nyerere retired in 1985 and, since then, subsequent governments have achieved significant economic progress. The annual growth rate between 2000 and 2006 averaged 5.8 per cent, making Tanzania one of best performers in sub-Saharan Africa. Even though, more than one-third of the population still lives below the poverty line.
As far as eLearning in schools and universities is concerend, the country’s national ICT strategy has ensured that small range educational institutions already have computer labs and multimedia facilities to support eLearning programmes.
eLearning and face-to-face courses on business topics are offered at the Tanzania Development Learning Centre (TGDLC) which is a member of the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) with over 120 networked development communication hubs globally.
Access to online and distance learning is still limited to urban and private educational institutions. It is hoped that the spread of rural community telecentres will boost eLearning in schools located in the remote hinterlands. A major challenge is still the growing training need for teachers, according to a recent survey. Efforts to develop local content, mainly in Kiswahili, are underway.
The draft ICT policy, however, points to significant progress towards e-government as various government agencies accelerate efforts towards digitalising their operations to enhance efficiency.
A selection of ICT initiatives and projects in Tanzania
Tanzania Beyond Tomorrow
The Tanzanian government, in partnership with several leading multi-national technology companies and non-governmental organisations, has recently announced that it will roll out a computer-based teaching programme in public schools in the next two years. It is meant to help bridge the shortfall of 85,000 teachers. For more details, go to: www.tbtschools.org
Tanzania Development Learning Centre (TGDLC)
Tanzania Development Learning Centre (TGDLC) is a member of the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) with over 120 networked development communication hubs globally. Its core function is to enable decision makers and mid-level professionals and practitioners to access and share the wealth of knowledge and experiences through the global communication system. More information on the Tanzania Development Learning Centre can be found here:www.tgdlc.go.tz
ICT Implementation in Teachers’ Colleges
This project aims at introducing ICT to all teacher-training institutions across Tanzania. The programme helps tutors to become ICT literate and enables them to use ICT as a tool for teaching and learning as well as for management and administration. It is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and pioneered by the Tanzanian Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. More information at: www.teachers.or.tz
Education Management Information System (EMIS)
The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training is spearheading the nationwide Education Management Information System (EMIS) to produce and manage educational data and information. This aims to collect, process and disseminate education data to educational stakeholders on a timely basis. So far, a many government officials have undertaken computer training and been provided with computers. Go to: http://moe.go.tz/moevt_programmes.html
Tanzania Education Services Website
The site publishes information on the education sector in Tanzania, including information about schools, examination results, and school administration. For more details, go to: www.tanedu.org