Finnish government promises more support to COSTECH

18Nov 2016
Daniel Semberya
The Guardian
Finnish government promises more support to COSTECH

In 2011, the Finnish and Tanzanian governments signed an agreement to collaborate in the ICT project dubbed “The Information Society and ICT Sector Development Project in Tanzania (TANZICT).”

Director General for Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) Dr Hassan Mshinda delivers a welcoming remark to Finnish high level delegation at COSTECH in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.

The official launch of the TANZICT programme and the innovation space opening together with the Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi) took place on October 31st in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

TANZICT stands for The Information Society and ICT Sector Development Project in Tanzania. It is a bilateral collaboration project between the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology of Tanzania (MCST) and Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

In his welcoming speech of the high level Finnish delegation led by the Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Kai Mykkänen, accompanied by Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania Pekka Hukka, the Director General for Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) Dr Hassan Mshinda, said that a five year ICT project was very successful.

He further said that the major objective of establishing the Buni innovation hub was to foster innovation and technology entrepreneurship through capacity building, mentoring programmes and community empowerment.

It was also focusing on discovering, nurturing and mentoring youths with innovative technological solutions to problems facing Tanzania. “Since its establishment five years now, around 5000 youths have benefitted,” he revealed.

“The overall objective of the project was to strengthened Tanzanian information society with enhanced capacities to contribute to the achievement of the Government’s socio-economic development goals.”

Mshinda said due to unemployment problem in the country, the first phase of the project concentrated on innovation so as young graduates can be able to acquire enough skills that can help them excel in the market.

“In the second phase, we will put our emphasis in other sectors like industry, agriculture and health among others,’’ he said, adding that the main focus is to strengthen the country’s economy and market availability.

The Finnish delegation had visited COSTECH Headquarters in Dar es Salaam to receive a progress report on the implementation of the project.

Finland’s long-term partnership with Tanzania is focused on three impact areas: Good governance, ICT & innovations and forestry. The development of the Policy has been supported by TANZICT, Component 1, and it can be seen clearly that National ICT Policy has direct links to good governance and ICT & innovation.

The access to information is a very important basic right for all citizens, ICT and new technologies open up the possibilities for advancing democratic development by e.g. increasing the accountability of the holders of public office.

Furthermore, the Policy highlights that ICT-development opens up new businesses and increases productivity. In Tanzania, the ICT industry has been growing at around 20 per cent per year for the past few years and is contributing a great deal to Tanzania’s national development.

According to the World Bank, Tanzania now has overtaken Kenya in terms of world’s most developed mobile banking services. As the modern ICT infrastructure starts to be in place, one of the key challenges in Tanzania now is to develop local content. The important aspect of localisation has been highlighted strongly on the Policy.

For his part, the Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Kai Mykkänen commended Costech for their successful achievements the first phase of the project and promised more support in the new support known as TANZIS.

The new project, which is expected to kick off early next year, will be shared by the two countries, Tanzania and Finland. Unlike the first project that mainly dealt with innovation, this coming project will mainly dwell on innovations on all sectors.

He said on the area of innovation, Finland and Tanzania have been enjoying bilateral cooperation for the past five years.

“We are happy for the cooperation, especially in ICT and we further look forward to improving Tanzania’s innovation skills next year,’’ he remarked.

Buni Innovation Hub Manager Jumanne Mtambalike, the hub concentrated mainly on innovation; whereas, over 5,000 youth had already benefitted from the project by equipping them with necessary skills that would help them to establish their business.

Mtambalike further noted that, majority of college and university graduates find it hard to get official employment, therefore the project was providing mentorship and pre-incubation programmes that have seen majority of them employing themselves.

He noted “Hub is an innovation hub (space) which focuses on innovation and technology entrepreneurship. Buni is aiming at building capacity and developing skills of Tanzanian youths through series of activities and programmes.”

Buni Hub is the first Innovation space to be established in Tanzania. Based in the country’s capital Dar es Salaam, Buni has a reputable record of nurturing and mentoring some of the best startup brands in Tanzania such as Soka App, Agrinfo, Time-Tickets among others.

Buni Hub imparts business centred employable hands on skills and knowledge to youths who are determined to distinguish themselves from the ordinary employee and/or entrepreneurs who aspire to be different from the average entrepreneur with little to no strategic business development skills.

Buni Hub’s contribution to the local innovation ecosystem is supported by four core programmes namely: Buni programmes internship programme, mini fabrication laboratory mentoring and pre-incubation.

He said that more than 30 projects and 675 students impacted by the internship programme.
Working with over 50 startup companies freelancers and products. Establishment of Buni Divaz, ladies
wing of Buni Hub which trained over 100 girls from CoICT 5000.

They have also managed to build the first electronic waste 3d printer in East and Central Africa; they successfully implemented the first makers pace in Tanzania, and Buni Mini FabLab. Again they successfully constructed the drone from the Mini FabLab, among others.