Regional Thetha ICT Project - Overview of Outcomes
The Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) implemented the Regional Thetha ICT Discussion Forum Project in five Southern African countries during the past two years. Covering Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the project focussed specifically on key issues that will inform the regional “ICT for Development (ICT4D)” process in the next decade.
The overall goals of the project, which was funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Embassy of Finland (South Africa), were to develop a comprehensive understanding of regional ICT4D issues through in-country research processes and stakeholder consultations; raise awareness and inform a wide range of national, regional and international stakeholders through Thetha forums about the expected ICT challenges and opportunities that will face the Southern African region in the next ten years; and ultimately, in the post-project phase, inform local and regional ICT decision-making and development planning processes.
Working with a research partner in each of the countries, the following five comprehensive research reports were compiled and published during the project:
Contextualising ICT for Development in Zimbabwe
Digital Inclusion in Mozambique: A Challenge for All
ICT4D: Challenges and Opportunities in Zambia
ICT4D: Facing the Challenges Head-on in Tanzania
Towards an Information Society in Botswana: ICT4D Country Report
On completion of the research reports, the country partners hosted one-day seminars where the findings were presented to a wide range of local ICT stakeholders. In total, more than 300 people participated in these events.
It is clear from the research reports and country events that ICT issues are starting to receive more dedicated attention in national policy-making and development processes. However, in most countries there is little evidence of significant investment in rural ICT infrastructure or maximising the potential of ICTs in support of key development priorities such as health and education. As a result, ICTs are not yet making a critical difference in response to the development challenges facing the Southern African region.
However, we hope that the issues identified and highlighted during the Thetha project will contribute to the necessary policy and investment interventions required to unlock the potential of ICTs in support of regional development processes.