Science and Technology minister Prof Makame Mbarawa is one of the members of President Jakaya Kikwete’s cabinet who survived Friday’s reshuffle.
He has retained his portfolio, and should now be comfortable enough to oversee the overhaul of the 2003 national Information and Communication Technology policy he shed light on last week.
Addressing an ICT stakeholders meeting in Dar es Salaam called to kick-start the process, the minister said present-day realities pose daunting challenges for humankind while also opening up golden opportunities for those ready to march with the times.
He elaborated on the benefits and demands of today’s globalised world, chiefly as relates to the degree to which science and technology are making it possible for communities as well as entire countries and nations to talk to each other and to one another much faster and more intelligibly and profitably than was the case in eras gone by.
We wonder whether the good professor could have presented his case any better and more effectively, given the social, economic and other miracles the world has witnessed mainly thanks to scientific and technological innovations.
His warning that Tanzania could find itself lagging further behind many other parts of the world unless it moved faster in catching up on the S & T plane is well worth heeding if we are indeed serious about emulating developed countries with respect to genuine progress in education, health, agriculture and al other sectors.
This is especially relevant during these times when our catchwords of choice are associated with our resolve to have a firmer industrial base, a modern agricultural sector, greater ability to process our agricultural produce, schools, colleges and universities as reputable as could be found anywhere on the globe, enough of our own medical specialists, engineers and various other experts, etc., etc.
As is well known, it is decades now since donor fatigue began setting in – effectively meaning that we were slowly but surely being weaned off financial and other forms of handouts from the donor community. The process is still raging with a vengeance and we have no option but to work harder and better if we are to be anywhere near making our dreams about realising the Millennium Development Goals come true.
Yes, some donors are still directing funds and other forms of support into national development initiatives such as Kilimo Kwanza, Mkukuta, Mkurabita and disease control programmes, but little of this assistance will likely last much longer.
The lesson we learn from these scenarios is none other than the urgent need for us to translate the natural and other resources we are endowed with into real wealth to help us become as minimally dependent on outside assistance as possible.
Making greater use of the benefits of ICT is surely part of the recipe for success, and Prof Mbarawa’s remarks point to the right direction. But who doesn’t know that our country has a plethora of national policies – on youth, children, senior citizens, people with disabilities, education, the environment, etc. – but few are really implemented to satisfaction?
Things have changed. It’s rough and tough times we are living in. We must get working more seriously.