It is my distinguished honor to welcome you all to this beautiful town of Livingstone at a time when the Victoria Falls is at its glorious peak, a marvel to watch indeed. I wish to invite you to take in the scenery of the falls, be ambassadors to what Zambia’s tourism has to offer, here and beyond. It is my pleasure to be here to officially open the 10th Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Information and Communication Technology Society of Zambia (ICTSZ).
This year’s ICT Society theme is “ADVANCING A KNOWLEDGE BASED ECONOMY THROUGH SMART AND SECURE ICT SERVICES – “CLOUD COMPUTING AND SECURITY”. The theme is an appropriate one for all of us. It speaks to Government’s will to leverage the use of ICTs to better service delivery for the benefit of the country, business and its citizens.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Zambia like any other country is integrated in the global economy and cannot afford to lag behind in using ICT for sustainable social economic growth. ICTs are at the center of continuous growth, innovation the world over. The Patriotic Front Government under the able leadership of his Excellency the President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu is on a path for and inclusive and diversified economy. This needs to be supported by a capable enabling policy and legal environment, human capital with the necessary skills, private sector investment in various sectors such as agriculture, and embracing the productive appropriate use of ICTs for business.
The Government through my Ministry is committed and evidently striving to provide enabling policies and regulations that are premised on supporting the ICT sector for accelerated growth and job creation. My Ministry has embarked on a grand and noble journey to review and revise the governing policy and legal instruments in the ICT sector which will take into consideration new developments from the global technological and governance spheres. I wish to call on all stakeholders in the sector to journey with us through sharing knowledge as we engage in various fora such as this one.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we have come to learn, cloud computing is here to stay. These technological platforms are providing various economic gains, environmental benefits and the ability to provision of services on demand; key factors driving the popularity of these platforms.
The Government through my Ministry has shown leadership by investing in the development of a state of the art tier III national data center to provide a multitude of services including cloud base services. I encourage you the stakeholders and industry to engage the Zambia National Data Center Limited over their premier services.
The data center is providing cloud customers with easy storage and access to data, processing power and redundancy across from centralized and secure location.
The data center will pivotal in promoting innovation, information access and provision of services to all stakeholders as we move towards a knowledge based society.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
While the Government and country is progressing on digital agenda, we are cognizant of the cyber threat that exists to our business, to us individuals and as you may know it has not spared our children. As I alluded to earlier the theme is fitting as it resonates with the steps the Government is taking to improve the governing frameworks regarding electronic commerce, electronic governance, cyber crime and data protection. My Ministry has positioned itself to provide progressive policy and legal frameworks governing the ICT sector. The Ministry will propose the following five (5) Bills that are expected to be approved singly by Parliament: - the e-Government Bill; the Cyber Security Bill; the Data Protection Bill; the e-Transactions and e-Commerce Bill; and the Cybercrime Bill which is a penal law that will be used to prosecute cybercrime offenses.
I would like to take this opportunity to call on all stakeholders including academia in the ICT sector to begin or enhance collaboration in dealing with the cyber threats that exist in these digital times.
The Government through my Ministry will play a critical role in initiating dialogue and engaging the best minds across Government, industry and academia to share knowledge on the best approaches to facing the ever changing needs of the ICT sector.
Some of the minds we need to engage are right here in this room. This is an opportunity for the ICTSZ to play a collaborative role and be an interface for all stakeholders as we dialogue on the future of ICT in the country.
I challenge you the president of the society and your executive to formulate tangible collaborative frameworks with stakeholders in the industry that will yield results in many areas such as:
1. Talent and innovation promotion from schools, colleges and universities;
2. Identification of local IT startups firms providing answers to the industry challenges;
3. Promotion of private public partnerships in the development of ICT for the country; and
4. Being a body of knowledge for ICT research and development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My Ministry will in this year be tabling the Information and Communication Technology Society of Zambia Bill that aims to legitimately maintain control and oversight of all Information and Communication Technology practice in Zambia as well as safeguard the interest of the public with a view of enforcing standards in the sector.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As the industry moves service provision and access to the cloud, we must be vigilant in our efforts to ensure the security of information, protection of the privacy of our citizens, and safeguard our national interests. Government and private employees and the Zambian people at large must be confident that their information is safe in the cloud.
I wish to bring to the attention of all stakeholders in this auditorium and beyond the message of Zambia’s global recognition through improvement of the country’s position on electronic Government index from 142 to 132. It is a positive affirmation on the impact of the programmes and activities we have embarked on, we are moving in the right direction. However, we recognize that we have more work to do and together we surely can do even better.
As I conclude, I wish to urge you all to remain committed to pushing the boundary on the utilisation for the right purposes and access to secure, reliable and affordable ICTs for the benefit of every citizen in this country.