‘Booming internet use not for development purposes’

19Oct 2019
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
‘Booming internet use not for development purposes’

EVEN as more than 20 million internet-connected devises are in use in Tanzania, the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has less to do with development, the government has cautioned.

Samson Mwela

Samson Mwela, acting director general of the Information and Communication Technology Commission (ICTC) said a number of local and foreign ICT products utilized in the country were not being used effectively for developmental ventures.

Mwela was briefing journalists on the coming Tanzania annual ICT Conference slated for Wednesday to Friday next week.

A report by the commission on the digital economy prepared for the International Chamber of Commerce shows that use of ICT products accounts for around 40 per cent of overall productivity growth among industrialized and emerging economies having membership in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) says that 40 million   mobile phones are in use out of which about 24 million are smart phone devices connected to the internet.

Most people who are online do not engage in developmental engagements online, as social media platforms are meant for chatting and passing time, it was noted.

Mwela said minimal use of ICT for economic advancement is a challenge facing ICT administrators. “ICT can be very beneficial if used positively for development purposes,” he said, underlining that “the potential is so huge.”

The conference with the theme ‘ICT for inclusive industrial economy’ will also see various products made in Tanzania being showcased, in the meeting to be addressed by the president of the Austria based International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), Prof Mike Hinchey.

During last year’s meeting the government initiated a process to institute a professional body to regulate the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) profession in order to deter quacks and curb cybercrime, among others things.

On this subject, Mwela said the commission started registering ICT professionals saying so far a total of 1,400 have been registered.

“We have directed them to bring us their CVs and this will help us to know the exact number of ICT experts but also their areas of specialization,” he said.

The annual conference is the third to take place in the country, and it will help administrators and professionals to consult on what is their role in the worldwide fourth industrialization drive, he added.