Zambia to launch digital centres for citizens to access free Internet service

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December 19, 2023
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2 min read
someone sitted with a laptop on their laps surfing the Internet
  • The Zambian government has announced plans to establish Community Digital Transformation Centres to improve its digital ecosystem. This follows the news that each member of Zambia's parliament will receive a Starlink kit for their home constituency. 
  • According to the Minister of Technology and Science, Felix Chipota Mutati, the centres will serve as hubs where citizens can get free Internet access. 
  • Smart Zambia will leverage the infrastructure of the Zambia Postal Services Corporation and other appropriate infrastructure to establish these centres.

Zambia has a population of over 20 million, and poor infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, has led to inconsistent Internet service. According to DataReportal’s Digital 2023, the country has an Internet penetration rate of 21.2%, representing 4.3 million Internet users.

“These centres will not only provide Internet access but will also serve as training grounds for digital literacy and skills programs, including digital entrepreneurship and innovation, creating opportunities for jobs and empowerment,” Mutati said.

The hub will offer several electronic government services, including trading licences, cooperative registration, road taxes, and social cash transfers. 

While emphasising the government's commitment to inclusivity in this development, aiming to ensure that every citizen benefits from the digital transformation, Mutati noted that empowering citizens with digital skills is on par with providing Internet access.

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On Monday, December 18, 2023, the Minister announced that it had successfully extended fibre connectivity to seven of the eight neighbouring countries via tax incentives and concessions. This move will boost digital infrastructure through a partnership effort between the government and the private sector. 

These seven countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. However, the government excluded Mozambique.

Per the Minister, the ongoing initiative to connect Mozambique to the fibre network is underway, with completion scheduled for June 2024. 

Mutati shared that the construction of the Tier 3 data centre and innovation hub, which will be situated in the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone, is slated for the coming year. 

This development is a significant step towards strengthening Zambia's digital infrastructure and encouraging regional innovation.

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