East Africa: Focus On Private Sector – Making ICT Partnerships Work

[SciDev.Net]Tanzania’s science minister, Makame Mbarawa, has recently called on the public and private sectors in Rift Valley nations to collaborate on information and communications technology (ICT), highlighting examples of how such partnerships have benefited his country’s development.
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Beware The Sweet Seducation of 3G Mobile Broadband Data Hype

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We have all heard the siren song of 3G or even 4G mobile broadband data changing the dynamics of Internet access across Africa. If you believe the hype, everyone in Africa now has unlimited Internet thanks to their mobile phone.

That just isn’t true.

Take a look at the network coverage map of Zimbabwe and note all the blank, white space where no one gets 3G. Guess what, in all that white space no one gets 2G either – that’s the no coverage zone in one of the richest countries in Africa. Other countries, like Tanzania, have even less coverage.

So before you assume away connectivity barriers by thinking 3G (or even 2G) mobile broadband will suffice for your technology intervention, take a good look at the GSMA’s Mobile for Development Intelligence network coverage maps and start figuring out Internet access Plan B.

And that’s just one of many reasons why public access to ICTs matter in the age of mobile phones.


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Tanzania’s Mwanzo Bora

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In Tanzania, 53 percent of pregnant women are anemic, and 35 percent of children under three are stunted – both evidence of severe malnutrition. A five-year (2011-2016) USAID-funded project led by Africare, the Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Program (MBNP) integrates agriculture and nutrition to address a host of malnutrition issues in women and children across three major rural regions of Tanzania.

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The Behaviour of Cybercafé Users in Tanzania

The findings of “Internet use behaviour of cybercafé users in Morogoro Municipality, Tanzania” paint a general picture which corresponds to that of the world in many cases. Most cybercafé users in Morogoro municipality are those who already have Internet access elsewhere and many are young, male and better educated.

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The Internet is primarily used for searching academic information, communication and searching news. There were generally weak correlations between demographic characteristics of respondents and the purposes of using cybercafés. Key stats include:

  • 59% never received training on how to use the Internet
  • 30% had used the Internet for 5+ years
  • 64% spent between one and three hours at the cafe on one or two weekly occasions
  • 15% visited every day
  • Average charges were US $0.80 per hour
  • 23% used the Internet for business purposes
  • 77% accessed Facebook (41% Twitter, 33% YouTube, 27% blogs)

There were no adverse addictive behaviours associated with Internet usage in the study area. Problems encountered in using cybercafés in the study area are those repeatedly reported to hinder Internet penetration in Africa, including slow Internet (71%), high costs (62%), unreliable Internet (51%), inadequate skills (42%), power problems (41%), and inadequate computers (39%).

Hat tip to OAfrica for the study link


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