Mastidia Byanyuma from the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Arusha, made the challenge during the 4th International ICT Summit on current and emerging technologies for Social-Economic Development held in Dar es Salaam recently.
This year’s summit involved a number of ICT experts from the University of Dar es Salaam Computing Center and the Institute of Finance Management (IFM).
Others were academicians, deans and officials from the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Arusha, Dublin Institute of Technology and the Irish Embassy in Dar es Salaam.
He said the role of ICT was crucial in transforming healthcare, agriculture, oil and gas and education.
In his presentation, he said broad band connectivity is necessary in rural areas where most of basic services are inadequate or don’t exist at all.
He said that broad band connectivity can enable many services to be offered through information and communication technologies (ICT’s) to the extent that rural people can enjoy quality communication.
The researcher further said that broad band must also assure those residing in rural areas enjoy services as those in urban areas and be part of the social economic development agenda.
“Although Tanzania has no specific broadband policy, current national strategies and ICT policy and other frameworks are sufficient to bring broadband services to rural and underserved areas,” he said.
According to the researcher, the government should establish actual utilisation of selected network and evaluate the performance of the proposal models.
He said infrastructure can be satisfactory if utilisation of available private and public networks were extended to rural and underserved areas, adding that other factors were ownership and public-private partnership programme.
Fatuma Simba from the University of Dar es salaam said despite failure of some projects intended to bring such services to rural areas, the engagement of rural communities was crucial for economic development and social transformation through e-government and other programs.
She said broad band services are an important contributor to increased country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), job creation, broadening of education opportunities, public services delivery and rural development.
She, however, warned that since broadband connectivity was unlikely to be commercially viable in areas that don’t have low cost backbone network services, utilisation of private connectivity reaching those areas becomes inevitable.