Monday, March 5, 2007

Tanzania Urged to Computerise

[Dar es Salaam, Tanzania]
ONE way for a country to quickly reduce costs and improve the efficiency of government nationwide is simply to look at IT (Information Technology) as a serious tool, and then apply it with zeal where ever it makes sense. That's why the newspaper article below really got my attention - so much in fact that I retyped it below giving due credit where applicable. Well, what are you waiting for? Read away!
Article: Government Urged to Computerise all Services
Author: Felix Andrew
Source: The Guardian (Saturday, March 3, 2007; Business & Foreign, pg. 1)

The deployment of info-tech in all government departments has the potential of increasing transparency and efficiency of service dispensation, an expert has said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Techno Brain (T) Ltd., Manoj Shanker said in Dar es Salaam recently that computerization would also reduce the chances of acts of corruption being committed in public offices.

As an example, he pointed out that with widespread computerization, a person who wants to get a visa form or a passport application form would not be compelled to go physically to the concerned offices, instead, one can easily download the documents from a website. His concern centred further on the fact that although the ICT industry was growing, it was doing so at a slow pace compared to other countries.

"Tanzania is emerging market in ICT industry, so without doing heavy investments we might be left behind." Shanker was announcing the New Horizons twenty fifth anniversary. Techno Brain Ltd. is the master franchisee of New Horizons East Africa and Central Africa. In his opinion, the ICT industry was facing various challenges which need a collaborative support from both the government and private sectors. One of the major challenges is shortage of skills warranting immediate attention.

As part of a strategic approach, Shanker said the government should establish more colleges dealing with ICT and introduce it as part of curriculum in schools in order to narrow the digital divide. "Tanzanians are good in software technology but they should be provided with more exposure", he contended.

For his part, Msafiri Lissu, the company's operations manager, said the ICT awareness among Tanzanians is still low, so more efforts were needed to improve the industry.
He said although the government has reduced or totally removed some taxes on computers and software, but still the costs were high. One of the hampering access to ICT is the low income and lack of awareness.

Meanwhile, the Dar es Salaam centre of the New Horizons has won the Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Regional Small Market Centre of the year award during the year 2006. The company was awarded after meeting the criteria laid down which include quality delivery standards, increased growth and customer satisfaction. Having trained more than 50,000 students and 700 corporate customers spread across the continent, Techno Brain Limited is the largest ICT training provider in the region.
As you can see, this is excellent news for companies or individuals who are able to provide a wide range of IT services (system administration, security, networking, web/application development, database analysis & design, programming, document management, encryption, data recovery, open source solutions, CRM, HRM, accounting, ERP, etc.) to the government sector.

What troubles me at times though is that a lot of people jump into the IT field simply for the money, but they have no clue (or passion) about what the heck they're doing. In addition, most of them are unable to see the big picture nor do they really understand the problem when they first meet with the client. This is something my Computer Science professors really stressed when I was an undergrad student.

Finally, it's my sincere desire that IT professionals working on new or upcoming projects here in Africa simply do the job (or task) correctly the first time around. From my own experience - usually as an observer - planning and documenting IT requirements seems to be a big problem over here. Hopefully this will change in due time as more serious professionals enter the market.

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