Zambia's First Draft ICT Policy
The desire to develop the National ICT Policy started as far back as 1998 under the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa coordinated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services. However, the policy was not realised. The responsibility shifted to the Ministry of Communications and Transport under the framework of the Tyoko International Conference for African Development (TICAD) Initiative of the Japanese Government through the United Nations Development Programme in 2001.
In addressing policy issues, the focus is on all sectors broadly categorised as Social, Economic and Environment and Natural Resources. Based on the national priorities outlined in the Transitional National Development Plan and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and other factors, the following have been identified as priorities for implementation; Agriculture, Education, Health, Tourism, Environment & Natural Resources, Youth, Gender, Human Resources as well as ICT Infrastructure and services.
However, the need to holistically invest in social and economic infrastructure across the country such as telecommunications, roads, electricity and community access points is key to the successful implementation of the integrated National ICT Policy.
Therefore, the policy seeks to achieve the following among other things;
i. Create a favourable political, socio-economic, legal and regulatory environment for both local and foreign investment in ICTs in the country
ii. To progressively harness the investment in the ICT sector for purposes of increasing the skills and knowledge of the Citizenry through the use of ICTs in everyday life and all spheres of the economy in order to increase social, cultural and economic opportunities at local, national and global levels for all citizens by the year 2020
iii. Positively contribute to wealth creation and sustainable social and economic development of among Zambians through the adoption and widespread use of ICTs in all sectors of society.
iv. Use ICTs to progressively reduce the digital divide between Zambia and the rest of the world through focused and sustained social, cultural and economic programmes
v. Create institutional mechanisms to support the effective implementation of the National ICT Policy
Successful implementation of such an integrated National ICT Policy requires sustainable and focused institutional frameworks and linkages. A converged regulatory body with mandate over the telecommunications, computing, broadcasting and postal services sub-sectors is proposed and shall come into force through an Act of Parliament. Convergence of services necessitates the regulation of such services under one body with specialists to cover the different sub-sectors.
The National ICT Agency is proposed to oversee and coordinate the implementation of the National ICT Policy by various stakeholders. This is in response to the growing number of uncoordinated ICT programmes and projects in the country. Equally recognised in this policy is the role of Government, Parliament, Civil Society, Private Sector and Cooperating Partners. Also the need for monitoring and evaluation is noted.