Dar es Salaam. The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar said it plans to establish a Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) that will be responsible for safeguarding the administration’s information technology infrastructure, systems, networks, and data from various cyber threats.
The managing director of Zanzibar e-Government Agency (eGAZ), Mr Said Seif Said, said the move is part of the government’s efforts to spearhead innovation, foster more digital integration across state activities, and support the economy.
He made the revelation during an interview with the Zanzibar Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) ahead of a planned commemoration of President Hussein Ali Mwinyi‘s three years in office.
“The cyber security operations centre that we plan to have, probably this year, will encompass a team of qualified experts who will be responsible for monitoring, detecting, responding to, and mitigating cyber security threats and incidents in a timely manner and ensuring they do not recur,” he said.
eGAZ is responsible for overseeing and promoting e-government initiatives as well as enforcing e-government-related policies, laws, regulations, standards, and guidelines for public institutions.
Explaining how his agency supports Zanzibar’s economic drive, Mr Said said the agency’s main job is to provide ease of doing business for investors interested in investing in Zanzibar.
“We collaborate closely with the relevant institutions. This collaboration aims to digitalize services, especially in essential areas like water and electricity, which support the entire investment process,” he said.
He said the proactive measures are supported by the agency’s innovation moves in making sure the Isle is not left behind as the world adopts the 4th industrial revolution.
“It is imperative in innovation to ensure we are not left behind, especially in exponential technologies like artificial intelligence,” he said.
Regarding innovation, the agency highlighted that it involves looking at the challenges faced by citizens and seeking solutions. This includes coming up with ways to expedite the delivery of social services, means of making government payments, and submitting reports.
“The main role of the e-government agency is not only to introduce systems but to bring about impactful digital systems. This concept centres on social and economic transformation,” said Mr Said.
He cited the use of digitised systems in the health sector, like Zan-MR, which stands for Zanzibar Medical Records, used to track patient records and eliminate paperwork, reducing the risks of records being destroyed or lost.
According to Mr Said, integration of electronic systems in state affairs was among the key achievements of the agency in the past three years.
This was done through a guideline that directed all institutions to consider the agency as a key consultant in all matters regarding ICT.
He cited the Integrated Financial Management System, which has proven successful in managing the government’s budgetary operations.
“In the past, we used to rely on private companies to do this, but today we have completely eliminated that,” he said.
Another benefit, he said, was the creation of economic opportunities for the Zanzibaris and the boost to financial inclusion.
“One of the significant steps the government has taken towards financial inclusion is through the promotion of Zan-Malipo. It’s a revenue collection system that makes it easy for citizens to make payments to the government through the use of control numbers,” he said.
He also mentioned the government’s e-procurement system, which is used for controlling government expenditures and promoting transparency and accountability.
He also spoke of Zan-Ajira, which is a system for applying for government jobs. Apart from discouraging nepotism and favouritism, the system ensures the right people are placed in job positions.
“We also have the digitised Human Resources (HR) payroll system to do away with ghost workers and, as mentioned before, the Integrated Financial Management System, which assists in auditing and monitoring public finances,” said Mr Said.
He said one of the key challenges in the use of the e-government system is a low uptake of the digital platform, especially among government officials in state-owned institutions.
The e-GAZ director acknowledged that the low uptake was a serious issue, as a recent diagnostic study by the World Bank also revealed that almost 50 percent of individuals are not effectively utilising the platforms.
He said, “Digital literacy is still a challenge because sometimes we receive inquiries indicating issues with the system at certain institutions. However, upon investigation, it is often found that the user lacks knowledge on how to operate the system.”
Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF)
To mark President Mwinyi’s three years in office, Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL), in collaboration with the Zanzibar Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), has organised a conference to assess the state of affairs during the 1,096-day period.
The forum that will run with the theme “Three Years of Dr Hussein Mwinyi: Achievements, Opportunities, and Challenges” is scheduled to take place on October 31, 2023, from 9am to 12pm at the Golden Tulip Zanzibar Airport Hotel.
The event will be organised in Zanzibar for the first time under the Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF) brand, which is happening for the 14th time.
Speaking at a press conference regarding this event recently, MCL’s managing director, Mr Bakari Machumu, said the conference aims to bring together stakeholders, scholars, and the community at large to celebrate the government’s reforms.
“We will also seek collective solutions to various challenges that arise. In this, we are committed to enabling citizens to participate in these discussions aimed at identifying visible successes in various fields,” he said.
In a later interview with ZBC, Mr Machumu also said the purpose of organising the conference was to increase public awareness so that citizens understand what their governments was doing.
He emphasised the importance of citizen participation, noting that when people are aware of existing opportunities, it becomes easier for them to recognise what is being achieved and not merely focus on challenges.
Machumu highlighted that MCL believes that by informing citizens about existing opportunities, it will be easier for them to understand what is happening in terms of development.
He further stated that, before President Mwinyi’s three-year milestone, the company had been visiting Zanzibar and had witnessed numerous changes.
“If we discuss it in the context of development, that is our goal, to bring these diverse groups together for in-depth discussions,” Machumu explained.
“Citizens can ask why certain things have not been given priority, why certain areas have been neglected, or not been well implemented. Ultimately, there will be a direct feedback loop from citizens and all stakeholders to improve things for the benefit of everyone,” Machumu asserted.