IS ICT DEAD IN ZAMBIA?

Information Communication Technology (ICT) has been a major source of development for both developed and undeveloped countries due to the world becoming a global village.

Despite the Ministry of Education introducing ICT in the Zambian curriculum, ICT literacy levels among Zambians are still low.

This can be attributed to minimal improvement in information communication technology.

Any person seeking employment needs to have basic computer literacy. It is also needed in order to have an effective administration.

The notion so far has not inspired most average Zambians to be computer literate. For instance, Students at the University of Zambia, especially first years struggle to do their assignments using computers.

This has forced some of them to hire freelancers to do their work; this not only prevents the student from developing themselves academically but encourages unproductiveness.

Another headache most students face is lining up for their bursary screenings which inevitably causes some students to abscond lectures in the name of student screening.

An IT specialist alias Joe, discussed on issues concerning students; costs and sustainability of ICT; the health sector and the use of opens source to educate Zambians.

Joe said the ministry of education not only introduced the ICT curriculum in schools but also at college and university level. Through the use of ICT technology students will access lessons via the internet through gadgets. This will result in students being more computer literate.

The health sector can be relieved from pressure with the use of ICT. Joe said Digital records promote efficiency in both hospitals and clinics.

For example, if a person travels from Lusaka to Livingstone and gets sick. They will not have to manually sign up with a clinic in Livingstone. Instead, digital records will be used saving time.
ICT Devices procured for business do not have to be up to date says Joe. He said that even technology from 10 years ago are sufficient. This according to Joe is enough to boost economic growth in Zambia.

Crowd sourcing can be used to procure ICT devices for both individuals and institutions. Joe went on to say most people these days can afford to buy a laptop. The average laptop can sell around k3000. There is a heavier cost when operations are managed manually as opposed to a digitally run administration.

The most interesting thing joe pointed out is how other African countries such as Kenya and South Africa have software coded in their own language. This has seen major development in the countries mentioned.

Zambia can follow suit and be done in a month’s time Joe said. All that is needed is an open source such as Linux. From there, IT specialists can be allocated to the coding of the 72 languages we have in Zambia.

In he’s final words, Joe said the development of the ICT industry depends on Zambian attitudes towards ICT technology.

Such things should not be taken for granted as youths are the future and will be taking part in making significant policies for the nation.

“Technology itself is there and we still see these cues, so the question is whether technology is really working,” said Information Communication Technology Society of Zambia (ICTSZ) President Alick Siankumo, when asked on the issue of UNZA students queuing for bursaries.

“The first thing is to have human resource with right expertise or the right skills, he said.

“Secondly, you have to be able to understand that technology is there to solve our own problems…until we understand that, you can never apply technology rightly.”

It’s that combination of factors that will appreciate the use of technology in modernising our processes and businesses. Once you get to that purpose now, you will look at what you should do for you to be efficient and effective.

He acknowledged that there are people who have solutions but questioned whether there is a platform to support those ideas.

“Probably people have thought of the solutions and technologies but maybe there are no resources to develop such solutions that will reduce those cues,”he stated.

On the issue of attitudes of Zambians toward ICT Mr Siankumo said,“It can be a combination of attitude but also have the platform to show what can be done. We haven’t accepted that ICT actually is a tool we can use, we still need to be convinced that ICT is a solution.”

Zambia continues to lag behind in terms of consumption and production. Reports have shown that the only a small percentage of Zambians are computer literate.

” I think we are still in the majority level of ICT consumption but we are still in that infancy,” Mr Siankumo said.

ICT is what a good number of Zambians would perceive as being expensive business and sustainability an issue to most.

It’s a very sustainable venture but it borders on skill, said Mr Siankumo.

He added that ICTSZ is on campaign to create computer literacy in Zambia starting from its grassroots; ICTSZ will soon be introducing a new law to advance the ICT industry in Zambia.

“From an angle as an association we believe that we need to begin to build it from the schools and learning institutions and expose those young minds to solve real solutions as provided in the industry,” Mr Siankiumo said.

The full potential of ICT in Zambia is yet to be realised. Without any doubt, our nation has the skills and expertise. Full support from private and public institutions is needed to drive the growth of ICT in the country.

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Milimo Namangala

I am currently pursuing an undergraduate programme in media and communication studies at the University of Zambia. I am taking psychology as my minor. As many great writers have said in the past, words do have power to change lives.

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