By Christopher Mvunga
The key driver of productivity in our societies has been the past three industrial revolutions.
Today, that driving force is ICT and the development and widespread application of digital technologies.
However, the transition from technology to productivity, and eventually to growth and jobs, is not a simple journey.
The theme at Davos this year, was Globalisation 4.0. We are now entering another, even more important phase – digital transformation driven by Broadband, 5G, Big Data, the Internet of Things, Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence.
Technologies need time to penetrate all sectors of the economy. Institutions have to adapt, and people need to be re-skilled.
This all leads to what we call today ‘digital transformation’.
It has been Zambia’s dream to fully utilize information and communication technology to transform its economy.
Zambia was one of the first countries in Sub-Sahara Africa to have full Internet access; Zambia was also among the first countries in Southern and Central Africa to host a continuous GPS tracking station connecting to the IGS International points.
President Edgar Lungu has sought to harness the great power and potential of technology to empower a nation and its people.
Upon becoming President, he announced the dream of a “Smart Zambia”.
This vision and commitment to progress, would play a major role in Zambia’s journey towards becoming a middle-income country by 2030.
Connections lays the foundation for the realization of this dream.
A key component of this ambitious initiative is bringing connectivity to Zambia in the forms of the Communication Tower Project.
This project will add 1,009 communication towers – increasing vital connectivity in rural areas.
This will result in 96% of universal coverage of both internet and communication facilities to Zambians across the country.
Through these connections, the ability for people to communicate, connect, share, learn, access information and express their opinions on matters that affect their lives and their communities, has been enhanced enormously.
These communication towers connect Zambians living in rural and remote areas, not only with each other and with public services, but with unlimited opportunities and possibilities.
If we look at how thousands of enterprises have enjoyed online services like business registration through e-government systems, , we can easily understand how ICT drives productivity and how an increase in these resource allocations, improves efficiency.
However, as mentioned above, sometimes it is not that simple. The efficiency of an organization depends on whether every member of an organization works hard towards a common goal.
Therefore, it is a shared responsibility to change the societies we live in.
From public sector to private sector, from corporate to individual, we all have to work together to unleash our potential and leap frog our country into a better future for all Zambians.
The past years have witnessed great advancements and progress in our country.
We have seen tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon and Huawei invest in our country and partner with our companies, providing global expertise that have contributed to our national transformation.
We have also seen youths in our country actively embrace information and communication technology to open-up a future brimming with opportunity and possibility.
70 percent of internet users are below 35 years and 41.3 percent are below the age of 24. With the great influence of ICT in our societies, the future of our nation will be in the hands of the young -a future fueled by their hopes, their dreams, and their ambitions.
With the Mobile World Congress 2019, the world’s largest event for the mobile industry upon us, we should be reminded that we are heading towards a shared and smart future where every citizen can have access to safe clean water, food, decent housing, electricity, quality education, health services and decent jobs.
In pursuit of this Smart Zambia vision, let us work together in a constructive and collaborative way.
We have the most powerful tools in our hands in order to achieve this – ICT, and the hard work and dedication of a nation.
The Author is the Deputy Secretary to Cabinet and recently accompanied the Zambian Delegation to the Mobile World Congress 2019, the largest mobile communications event in the world