… Smart Zambia Chief says, the first priority is Lake Lunga in Northern Zambia where the existing mobile providers have no presence.
By Francis Maingaila
Lusaka, Zambia, 24 (7-06-2023) – The Zambian government has not only officially granted Starlink, a satellite internet service provider owned by SpaceX, an operating license to operate in Zambia, but has also issued the latest license to Starlink to provide data networks to rural areas where the other three mobile providers are not present.
Percy Chinyama, the Executive Director of Smart Zambia, told journalists at a media engagement held at Pamodzi hotel that the first priority is Lake Lunga in Northern Zambia where the existing mobile providers have no presence.
He said the area lacks technological equipment that he believed could change the lives of the island’s inhabitants.
For years, Chinyama said Lunga had been neglected by the government as its remote location made it difficult to connect to the rest of the country.
But Percy wanted to change that, and he believed that technology could be the key.
As the team set up the equipment, they had brought with them, Percy watched the children on the island gather around in excitement. They were fascinated by the high-tech gadgets that Percy and his team had brought.
Over the next few days, the team worked tirelessly to install networks for internet connectivity, mobile communication, health care digital services, and more on the island. Percy was incredibly pleased with the progress they had made.
“Today, as I speak, Lunga has the fastest internet in the country now,” Percy declared proudly. “Coming from a background of feeling neglected, Lunga is now the most connected island in terms of technological communication. This is because of the policies that have been put in place.”
He went on to announce that Zambia had issued a network license for data only, which granted access to the international market in data. With this license, players like Liquid, MTN, and Airtel could now connect to previously unreached areas like Lunga, where their services would be in high demand.
“I want to assure everyone that we all have a space in this sector,” Percy proclaimed. “No one is going down – we are all going to grow as the sector grows.”
As Percy and his team prepared to leave Lunga, they were met with cheers and applause from the island’s residents. They had just changed many lives forever. Percy felt incredibly proud and happy, knowing that his team had played a role in bringing the nation together in terms of communication and technology.
He left the island with a renewed sense of hope that with the right policies and the right technology, even the most remote areas of Zambia could be connected to the rest of the world.
Minister of Technology and Science Felix Mutati addressed the audience at a national conference on the importance of technology in national development. “Zambia is at a pivotal moment in our history,” he said.
“We have the opportunity to revolutionize the way we do business and provide services to our people through technology.”
Speaking in Lusaka today, Science and Technology Minister, Felix Mutati says the coming of Starlink into the digital space will improve internet connectivity and bridge the digital divide in the country.
Mr Mutati says the satellite internet service provider has been working to expand its services to different parts of the world, and in Zambia, the company has been testing its services in various provinces, and the results have been impressive.
He says the government has prioritized internet connectivity and the need to address connectivity issues because this is the only way Zambia can secure a fully functional 21st century e-government system.
At the same event, Smart Zambia National Coordinator, Percy Chinyama, said the development is expected to help boost connectivity and access to information for millions of Zambians who have long been underserved in terms of internet access.
He went on to explain that technology is key to increasing productivity, streamlining processes, and providing more efficient services across all sectors. “If we embrace technology, we can accelerate growth and development, creating a more prosperous and secure nation for all Zambians.”
The minister highlighted the need for investment in digital infrastructure and education to support the adoption of new technologies.
“We must build the digital infrastructure necessary to support the increasing demand for connectivity, and we must train and educate our people so that they are equipped to use and implement new technologies.”
He also emphasized the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors to drive innovation. “We need to work together to create an environment that encourages technological innovation and fosters entrepreneurship.
We must empower and support our local tech industry so that it can compete on a global scale.”
In conclusion, Minister Mutati urged all Zambians to embrace the opportunities technology presents, saying “Let’s seize this moment and work together to create a Zambia that is connected, innovative, and prosperous.”
Kusobile Kumwambi, Chief of the Presidential Delivery Unit, discussed the importance of Zambia’s digital transformation agenda.
According to Kumwambi, President Hakainde Hichilema recognizes that ICT is key to Zambia’s social and economic development.
At the top of the country’s Presidential priorities is the digital transformation agenda, which will provide equitable access to information and opportunities, including smart healthcare and support for Zambian farmers.
Kumwambi was excited to share how ICT has already created more opportunities for Zambians to connect with global markets.
Even students in rural areas can now access scholarships online that they could not have received without connectivity.
Kumwambi believes that by investing in the ICT sector and connectivity, Zambia can unlock the digital economy and become the region’s digital hub.
The Chief of the Presidential Delivery Unit plans to ensure that the sector moves forward while keeping up with all technological advances.
Kumwambi recognizes that progress in this sector must lead to tangible deliverables that reach all Zambians.
Therefore the Delivery Unit is committed to ensuring 95% of their objectives are met.
Kumwambi also highlighted how the private sector, recognizing the potential of ICT, has started to develop platforms that market the government services on their behalf.
Kumwambi encourages all sectors to contribute to the digital agenda to make it possible.