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Business Leaders Pledge Innovation, Collaboration in Driving Tanzania’s Digital Future

They mention regulatory frameworks, data sovereignty, and mindset as elements impeding faster digital integration in Tanzania.

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Dar es Salaam. Members of the CEO Roundtable of Tanzania (CEOrt), an umbrella organisation representing business leaders of over 200 companies, have pledged to increase innovative and collaborative efforts to accelerate digital transformation in the East African nation.

This commitment emerged during a recent dialogue session facilitated by the CEOrt, whose mission is to enhance impact in leadership and drive sustainable socio-economic growth. The meeting occurred between August 15 and 21, 2023.

During the dialogue, discussions focused on ‘Digital Transformation Through Innovation and Collaboration,’ engaging stakeholders from the public and private sectors and highlighting the attained milestones while addressing the next measures required to actualise comprehensive digital integration, ensuring its accessibility across all segments of society.

Delivering the keynote address at the meeting, Minister for Information, Communication, and Information Technology Nape Nnauye emphasised the government’s commitment to fostering an environment where innovation thrives and collaboration with the business community is enhanced to support socio-economic development.

READ MORE: Launch of 2Africa Subsea Cable Makes Digital Tanzania Dream Closer Than Ever

“Technology is just a tool,” Mr Nnauye, who doubles as Mtama MP (Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM), said during his address. “The real power lies in how we wield it, and it is in this wielding that the principles of innovation and collaboration take centre stage.”

The GovTech Maturity Index (GTMI) 2022 report placed Tanzania at 26th globally with effective use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in delivering public services, up from the 90th position in 2021.

Various elements, including the broadening of network coverage, the introduction of high-speed internet services, and the increasing integration of mobile money technologies, are shaping the country’s digital landscape.

Essential stakeholders within the industry are working closely with the government to bridge gaps within the digital ecosystem, thereby unlocking the complete potential for transformative digital change.

Partnerships are pivotal

Vodacom Tanzania, a significant player in this arena, has demonstrated a strong commitment to bolstering technological investments within the country, evidenced by initiatives such as a digital accelerator program tailored to support tech startups.

Vodacom Tanzania Managing Director Philip Besiimire thinks that public-private partnerships are pivotal to achieving digital transformation in Tanzania as collaborations bridge the digital divide and enhance delivery.

READ MORE: YoungBoldDigital: ‘Start-Ups Are At the Bottom of the Start-up Ecosystems’

“In Africa, a continent often underestimated, a striking testament to its digital potential is its mobile usage, 72 per cent of its vibrant population uses mobile phones regularly,” Mr Besiimire said.

Drawing insights from personal experiences to illustrate strategies for driving collective efforts, Mr Edwin Bruno, CEO & CVO at Smart Africa Group (SAG), advocated for starting with a shared vision of collaboration and delineating how each partner can contribute value to the partnership.

Illustrating his point concerning Rifaly, SAG’s content curation platform that disseminates African content digitally to a global readership, Bruno highlighted how their cross-collaboration with publishers ensures content availability.

He also explained how strategic partnerships with mobile networks and financial institutions facilitate seamless digital payments, empowering each participant to assume an important role in materialising the collective vision.

This collaborative model also led to technology exportation to neighbouring countries, thereby expanding the initial vision’s reach.

Understanding clients’ needs

In Africa, digitisation is making a notable impact, particularly through the avenue of mobile technology, by driving significant strides in financial inclusion, with financial institutions being at the forefront in championing this, including by analysing customer behaviour and understanding underlying needs.

A good example is Azania Bank Ltd.’s strategic partnerships, which aim to elevate digital financial services, ultimately bridging gaps and providing efficient banking solutions to the financially underserved demographic.

READ MORE: Promises, Perils of New Guidelines on Insurance Digital Platforms in Tanzania

Stanbic Bank Tanzania also acknowledges the role of digital services as a catalyst for its business operations, with its Head of Corporate and Investment Banking, Manzi Rwegasira, acknowledging the constant changes in clients’ needs and expectations, necessitating the need for individualised service and solutions.

“To remain relevant to customers, digital transformation is inevitable,” Mr Rwegasira said. “At Stanbic Bank, we are collaborating with various partners to ensure that our products and services are innovative and relevant to cater to the changing needs of our customers.”

On his hand, Mr Harish Bhatt, Managing Director of Soft-Tech Consultants Ltd, acknowledged the promising digital transformation in Tanzania, calling out the private sector’s limited usage of data analytics.

Mr Bhatt’s views were validated by a preliminary survey conducted during the CEOrt engagement, which found that 55 per cent of the represented are fully digitised, whilst only 26.9 per cent are well established in their approach to data analytics.

READ MORE: Tanzania in Preparation for It’s Digital Currency

Mr Bhatt stressed the need to leverage data analytics by categorising data based on behavioural patterns instead of demographic factors, saying it can predict consumer needs and generate invaluable insights.

“Embracing technology and digital transformation is not just about adopting new tools—it’s about forging the future of business,” he said. “At Soft-Tech Consultants, we believe in navigating the digital landscape and mastering it, ensuring that every leap forward becomes a strategic advantage for our partners.”

Impeding factors

Ms Zuweina Farah, Founder of SNDBX, identified factors like regulatory frameworks, data sovereignty, and mindset as elements impeding faster digital integration.

In her observations, Ms Farah, who doubles as the Director of External Affairs at Vodacom Foundation, recommended integrating design thinking skills into the education system to ensure that startup innovations align with societal needs, ensuring their sustainability.

READ MORE: Samia Reiterates Need for Universal National Identification

Mr George Mulamula, CEO of Technovate, backed this proposal, underscoring the necessity for a shift in mindset away from replicating existing norms and towards innovating solutions that hold pertinent market value.

Business leaders in the country agreed on the need to intensify their initiatives in fostering strategic collaborations, urging academia to augment efforts in educating the public, reshaping perspectives, and emphasising the importance of the government’s unwavering commitment to realising the nation’s digital vision.

During their meeting, the leaders appreciated President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s efforts to advance digital development in Tanzania, with both the public and private sectors assuming vital responsibilities in shaping the envisioned opportunistic future.

The CEOs resolved to continue the commitment to fostering a cross-sector dialogue that consistently advocates for the country’s sustainable socio-economic prosperity.

Digital Freedom and Innovation Day
The Chanzo is hosting Digital Freedom and Innovation Day on Saturday April 20, 2024 at Makumbusho ya Taifa.

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