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Speed up National ICT Policy Implementation, OWA Urges Zambian Government

OneWorld Africa has urged the Zambian Government to speed up the process of implementing the National ICT Policy that was launched in March 2007.

OneWorld Africa has urged the Zambian Government to speed up the process of implementing the National ICT Policy that was launched in March 2007. Speaking during the stakeholders consultative meeting held in Lusaka recently, OWA Executive Director Priscilla Jere said that ICTs underpin the unprecedented levels of prosperity enjoyed by many countries and as such African Countries like Zambia needed to quickly come up with workable strategies that will bring the Policy into realisation. 

 

She said that  players in the industry must provide an impetus and help to monitor the  implementation mechanism that will harness the translation of the Policy into tangible results on the ground.

 

“Our contribution towards this process must ensure that policy implementation strategies speed up at all levels. Information technologies have become a potent force in transforming social, economic and political life globally. If access to and use of information technology is linked to social and economic development, then it is imperative to ensure that Zambians understand the significance of these technologies and use them”, Jere said.


Jere added that much has been said on the state of Africa's ICT policies, but what ought to be understood is that ICT development will not exist outside social and political framework. She said that if government has no political will to implement the ICT Policy, then access to the majority will not be realized. She challenged the government to quickly adopt the resolutions to be passed by the Civil Society as not doing so would negate development.

Jere further highlighted the fact  that ICTs are vital for today's information society as they affect all aspects of human activities.

 

“ICTs provide organisations and individuals with new ways of doing things for increased communication. It is the vehicle being used worldwide for ensuring a knowledge-based society for effective development. Benefits to be derived from wider application of the ICT are so many that Zambia cannot afford to be left behind by other countries in the implementing facets that will develop this important sector. To compete effectively and successfully in this fiercely competitive global economic environment, Zambia needs to apply ICTs in every day life”, Jere said.

“Many governments in both developed and developing countries have recognised and identified access to ICTs as an important strategy towards the social and economic development of their populations. To achieve the nationwide goal of reducing the digital divide, it is incumbent upon governments to provide frameworks, incentives and enabling environment that will stimulate private sector investment in low-income and high cost areas”, she added.

Jere bemoaned the lack of coordination exhibited by the Zambian government. “For Zambia, the current policy guidelines broadly call for government subventions to support universal access and expansion of services to all parts of the country including rural and other underserved areas. Unfortunately, neither a strategy nor mechanisms exist for ensuring that universal access is implemented”, Jere said. 

Major challenges still remain in the implementation of the ICT Policy in Zambia. Institutional infrastructure to facilitate a faster rollout of the e-government strategy is limited. The ICT systems that have been so far installed remain disjointed and fragmented and the ICT solutions are generally under-utilised, thus duplication and wastage remain. The lack of ICT standards hinders widespread growth and utilisation of applications. In practical terms, a number of technical, operational, and regulatory prerequisites must be instituted as players begin to institute the e- strategy for Zambia.

And E- Brain Zambia National President Lee Muzala called on players in the industry not to relent in providing a “watchdogs” role in the implementation process of the Policy. He called on the players in the industry to provide bench marks that will create a conducive environment for all players to participate in the country.

The one day seminar came up with an implementation plan which was presented to the Zambian government.   

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