COMPUTING

ZAMBIA LAUNCHES NEW ICT POLICY

With the launch of the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy for Zambia, it is expected that the regulatory framework will be harmonised and contribute to national development through creation of an innovative market and responsive competitive ICT sector writes Balancing Act’s Zambia correspondent Timothy Kasonde Kasolo.

Officially launching the national ICT policy for Zambia, President Levy Mwanawasa whose speech was read on his behalf by Vice President Rupiah Banda-said the ICT policy is an important step for the country to be transformed into an  information and knowledge based society.

He added that there was need to harmonise the existing regulatory bodies that govern the ICT sector through the implementation of the national ICT policy.

“The challenge that remains ahead is to implement the policy through the involvement of private sector and other partners for ICT infrastructure development,” Mwanawasa said. The President explained that there was need for the development of ICT incubators and ICT business innovation to accelerate local consumer use of ICTs in Zambia. “Through the launch of this national ICT policy the aim is to bridge the digital divide among Zambians,” Mwanawasa explained.

The President added that the national ICT policy will improve and contribute to economic development of the country through facilitation of joint venture initiatives for local entrepreneurs working with the international private investors in the provision of ICT goods and services.

“The policy will enhance national development through the creation of a favourable business environment and promote Zambia as an attractive destination for ICT related investments within the region and on the international market,” the President said.

Mwanawasa called upon stakeholders in the ICT industry to develop infrastructure in rural areas so that access to ICT services is served to many people in Zambia

And speaking earlier United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Zambia, Aeneas Chuma said Zambia has advanced in the use of ICTs for development.

Chuma explained that some of the examples of ICT development in Zambia is through distance learning using the Internet and the transmission of election results using mobile phones. The UN representative added that the ICT policy is a crucial enabler of for Zambia’s development.

He said that the ICT policy will help Zambia in the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) applied to education and health support in relation to ICTs.

Meanwhile Ministry of Communications and Transport (MCT) Minister, Peter Daka urged Zambia Telecommunication Company (ZAMTEL) to spearhead  the development of the optic fibre in order to ease communication costs in the country.

Daka explained that ICTs should be made available even in rural areas so that the Zambian people moved at the same wave length in embracing information technology.

The ICT policy was developed through a consultative process in 2003 and was completed in 2005 by the technical committee that was appointed by the MCT. The MCT website is http://www.mct.gov.zm/

What does ICT policy cover? The ICT policy guides actions in three main areas and ensures coherence among them: Telecommunications, Broadcasting and the Internet.

The telecommunications sector includes private businesses and public sector organizations that provide telecommunications services (telephone, Internet access), produce equipment (telephones, exchanges, modems etc), define and apply the rules that govern telecommunications operations (regulation), or use telecommunications services and products (consumer groups, interest groups, educators, health professionals etc).

Broadcasting is the use of radio technologies to send transmissions (programmes: news, public services, entertainment, sports) intended for direct reception by the general public. Transmissions include radio and television. Like telecommunications, the broadcasting sector includes public enterprises such as national and community radio and television as well as private companies.

While twenty years ago most broadcasters knew their audiences and targeted their services and programmes locally or nationally, today’s television and radio programming often has a regional or global reach.

The Internet is a collection of networks linked together using a common protocol - a global computer network achieved through the interconnection of smaller computer networks around the world.

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