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technology (1)Tanzania has been ranked as one of the countries in the world with worst preparations to utilise ICTs to boost competitiveness and people’s wellbeing. This is ten years after the adoption of the National Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) policy.

The 2013 Global Information Technology Report ranks Tanzania at 127 out of 144 countries on the networked readiness index, four places down from last year’s report, which placed the country at 123.

In East Africa, the rankings remained the same from last year. Rwanda maintained the lead though dropping six positions globally from the 82nd in last year to the 88th this year. Kenya remained second and the 92nd globally rising one position from last year’s ranking. Uganda became third and the 110th globally the same as last year followed by Tanzania.

Burundi didn’t only finish last in the region, but also globally, as it ranked 144th out of 144 countries dropping seven positions from last year’s ranking.

The report identified same challenges for Tanzania and Uganda and noted: “Uganda, Zambia, and Tanzania —in 110th, 115th, and 127th place, respectively—suffer from strong connectivity gaps and environments that lack the conditions to allow full leverage of ICT benefits.”

The general index was a sum up of five sub-indexes, which highlighted how countries faired in environment both political and regulatory environment and business and innovation environment, readiness in infrastructure and digital content, affordability and skills.

Usage in three parameters, individually, business and government, and the last sub-index being impact both economically and socially.

The mission statement of the 2003 National Information and Communications Technologies policy intended “to enhance nation-wide economic growth and social progress by encouraging beneficial ICT activities in all sectors by providing a conducive investment environment, capacity building and promoting multi-layered cooperation and knowledge sharing locally as well as globally.”

Tanzania is lagging behind in implementing the mission statement. As far as economic growth and social progress is concerned, out of 144 countries, Tanzania is ranked the 136th in economic impact and the 119the in social impact. Kenya has been ranked the 47th in economic impact.

For ICTs to bring positive impacts there should be a friendly environment, what the policy called ‘conducive framework for investment’, while the country is performing close to fair in political and regulatory environment where it is ranked the 76th, it is still performing poorly in business and innovation environment where it is ranked the 128th.

Tanzania has a lot to learn from Rwanda which is ranked first in Africa and the 29th globally in environment sub-index generally, the 13th globally in political and regulatory environments and the 59th in business and innovation environments.

The crucial part in ICT development is penetration and usage, the report ranks Tanzania the 127th in individual use, 102nd in business use and 99th in government use.

Affordability also is a problem in Tanzania where it is ranked the 130th and in potential skills to command ICTs in the country it is ranked 12 positions from bottom at 132.

For Tanzania to prosper in ICTs it should take on board findings of the report and work on the way to find timely solutions.

For example, the report, as far as sub-Saharan Africa is concerned, concluded that, “costly access to technology, a low skills base and unfavourable business conditions are among the chief stumbling blocks”.

The government of Tanzania can also take leaf from Mauritius, which is ranked the 55th globally and first in Africa thanks to strong vision of their government to build and deploy ICTs as one of the three key strategic priority sectors for the development of the national economy.

“Overall, the country has continued to build its ICT structure, ensuring that it becomes affordable to support a stronger uptake from all agents in the country,” notes the report.

The report was released recently by the World Economic Forum and data was collected among other sources by international organisations such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Bank, and the United Nations.

Source: The Citizen