Vodacom has launched 5G technology in Tanzania. It is indeed (#YaKwanzaTanzania) the hashtag meaning “the first in Tanzania” to deploy and launch 5G Technology. 5G is a software defined network highly and largely operational on the cloud as opposed to fibre and cable. 5G is the latest generation of cellular technology, promises faster speeds, lower latency and greater capacity for multiple devices than its 4G predecessor. It was first launched in the continent in South Africa in May 2020 where other countries of Botswana, Egypt, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe followed suite. Uganda was the first in East Africa followed by Kenya and now Tanzania. This event was graced by the Minister of Information, Communication & ICT of Government of Tanzania – Mr. Nape Moses Nnauye as the guest of honour. The minister expressed excitement for just three months ago, in the house of parliament, he had promised the Tanzanians that there was going to be an advent of the 5G Technology in the country.
I was privileged to be part of History in the making. I had actively participated at the day and place where history was being made in Technological Advancement of connectivity by Vodacom Tanzania. I was among the four panellists that were invited at the launch event to share my perspectives on what the 5G technology will mean to non-government organisations (NGOs) especially in the line of how they can embrace and leverage on the power of this inevitable technology. My insights drew context from our Digital NGO project that is implemented by Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) in partnership with Meta (then Facebook) with one of the program running an incubation for 35 NGOs aimed at accelerating Digital Transformation and Adaptation for NGOs.
Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) has been working with NGOs for almost two years working towards understanding the community to which a study was conducted on “An Overview of the Digital Ecosystem, Emerging and Applied Technologies of NGOs in Tanzania”. This is one of Tech & Media Convergency (TMC)’s project aimed at playing a central role at the heart of Digital Transformation. This project is a platform for learnings, piloting, studying and being part of change. It comes with rich information that cannot be found anywhere at local country context. Among the observations of how the NGOs can embrace the 5G technology, the below are some of the approaches:-
Deploying the Technology within and across the ecosystem at a fully-fledged level
5G technologies has been in conversation for quite some time now. Vodacom is now providing an asset of reliable, secure, global internet connectivity. Fast tracking effective application and benefits from the 5G technology from top to bottom so as to leave no one behind will require NGOs capitalizing on it for triple down effects to enable technology for humanity in real sense. NGOs as the key drivers of development always representing the citizens for what is best for them, they are required to play and integral role in technology as well. And it can only succeed if they have deployed it in their everyday work to be able to grasp the best way to amplify it to those whom they stand for.
Taking lead in the Conversations centred around the 5G Technology
We are talking about Technology for Humanity. That in itself calls upon the NGO community to not only be part of the conversations, but to champion and consistently foster constructive conversations on and about the 5G Technology. The NGOs are custodians for what benefits the people and how best they can benefit to that which is critical and important for the people. And thus for the future of a reliable Digital Tanzania, if we are not to leave anyone behind, 5G is not an option, it is a necessity. The critical role of these conversations is to make sure people have the right information, and have access to the technology. There actors who foster these conversations, such as Vodacom today, but the NGOs are in a better position because they hold most of the leverage of social impact for the people.
Accelerating focus and applying an enterprise approach at embracing the new Technologies
I admit that, there is a lot of work to do. And it can only be possible if and when the NGOs fully embrace emerging and applied technologies at a 360 degree level. In the sector — Tanzania compared to our neighbouring countries, is way behind at embracing new technologies and anything associated with it unless it necessary such as virtual calls. As we speak the government is doing relatively well in embracing and adapting to Digital compared to the NGO community. NGOs need to leverage on the best way it could embrace their dominant position. This will inevitably lead to understanding, amplification and being the leading sector with intentional goals of being part of the necessary changes which the Fourth Industrial revolution requires. And this is only possible if NGOs accelerate focus at embracing these technologies such as 5G.
Investing in Capacity of understanding new technologies such as 5G
- Capacity of resource centres in technology related themes drawn from local context and addressing technology in lines of how it can be best applied for a Digital Tanzania and its people for Social Impact.
- Capacity in skills and expertise in knowledge of key rampant technologies such as Internet of Things (IOTs), Artificial Intelligence, Smart Cities, Virtual Realities and many more. These are part and parcel of the future, part and parcel of the 5G technology.
- Capacity in holding technology (ICT) this agenda in general, being the number one performer and accountability holder in such new ventures of new technologies.
Expected Challenges as embracing the 5G Technology
There are several challenges. We learned of this challenge through our study mentioned below that we launched in July 2021 titled “An overview of the digital ecosystem, emerging and applied technologies on NGOs in Tanzania”. Some of the challenges (while the discussion of focusing on 5G Technology, it applies to Technology in general) are below:-
- We learned that there is a mismatch of relationships between the Private Sector and NGOs. In most cases the Private sector does very well in introducing technological change, it could be of significant impact if the NGOs could amplify those introduced technological changes. One of the key ingredients for the success of any nation in embracing national change is creating an interconnected ecosystem which is in the case of all innovations and technology, most importantly the 5G deployment.
- There is an urgent need for “Mindset Change”. Majority of the NGOs in the Nation are doing very well according to their key performance indicators. But those indicators as good and impactful as they are they will be more impactful if they are integrated with technology.
- With the slow adaptation of interest from the NGO community, there might be an influx of technologies and all associated entities such as the current conversations on Data Governance looking at Security and Privacy and thus the slower the mindset change the more the consequences of delay in adapting to the intentional attributes of what the 4th Industrial revolution brings with it.
Some of the roles of an individual at accelerating or decelerating the 5G technology
Debunking on misleading information around the 5G technology
Drawing from the context of the other countries which started off on this conversation. There was a lot of negative information and news in lines of the technology. It is very important for the those with privilege of knowledge, access to information and digital citizenship exposure to be at the forefront of debunking information understanding intent whether its Misinformation, Disinformation and Malformation.
To those in the Innovation and Technology Space
We will be seeing an enhanced capacity of the internet which has the transformative potential and power to provide a wide rage of benefits combined with technologies such as the Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Virtual realities and Smart everything (from smart phones to cities).
A great opportunity for Content Creators
We need a lot of information about 5G technology on the Internet and especially in Swahili language so that the Tanzanians who really are not affluent in English (which carries most of the content), could also learn and understand what it means, and how they can benefit from it. We have brilliant content producers but a very few leveraging on content creation around technology.
As a nation. We need to be keen and careful. We are all fully responsible for making things WORK. I am personally really happy today for Vodacom introducing the 5G technology and making Tanzania among the top 15 countries of the 54 nations in Africa to adapt to this technology. Technology is very fast, we need to be fast in attaining our goals and solutions of our nation kwa ajili ya maendeleo ya Taifa.