Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Sylvia Chalikosa told Parliament yesterday that the government used to spend K62 million per annum on internet services in 87 departments.
But that figure has been reduced to K28 million following the implementation of the Smart Zambia program aimed at embracing a transformational digital culture in the country, she said.
Chalikosa said the government is working towards the country’s national Information Communication Technology systems across the country to provide affordable services by using modern technologies.
In 2019, Smart Zambia plans to connect another 50 departments to the government network under the Zambia National Data Center “for the attainment of the government’s pillar on building smart infrastructure in which all government and private sector ICT hosting infrastructure have been consolidated and housed”.
“This data center is active and connected to two other sites that run as a back up site and a disaster recovery site for government systems…the data center has also been commercialised and opened up to the private sector so that at fee, they able to locate their data needs,” Chalikosa said.
So far, banks and mobile phone providers have started utilizing the facility at a fee.
Chalikosa said the provision of the shared services and infrastructure had facilitated access to services such as the government’s official email addresses, e-Cabinet, Skype for business, electronic payslips, the unified internet and the commencement of the project by the Ministry of Communications and Transport to construct 109 mobile communications towers across the country.
“The system has reduced the costs of printing and production of government payslips from K72 million…and 52 government standardized informational websites were developed in-house and deployed to the Zambia National Data Center. The websites are for the constitutional offices, government ministries and provincial administration offices, the development of government websites in-house and the hosting of the sites on government’s ICT’s infrastructure has resulted into significant costs servings from previously K26 million to K 1.6 million,” Chalikosa said.
She said Smart Zambia would ride on this to “deploy more shared services across the country to the public service” through fibre optic network to connect the remaining 30 district centers.
Chalikosa revealed that the country currently has 12, 700 kilometers of fibre optic providing high speed broadband internet to the district centres where fibre had already been commissioned.
But this does not exist in other districts and “Smart Zambia is working on filling up the gaps so that those districts are also covered”.
“With regards to provision of electronic services, government has embraced technology to simplify and quicken service delivery and in this regard, a total of 16 applications have been developed providing an estimated 38 public services online, which includes implementation of electronic Cabinet that has reduced costs of manual operations and processing of cabinet business…the implementation of e-Cabinet has improved decision making that’s empowering citizens through timely interventions by the executive,” Chalikosa said.
She said this measure had resulted in a reduction of the carbon footprints by reducing the volumes of paper and toner used during Cabinet meetings and further resulted in reduction of costs of running Cabinet meetings from K68 million to about K10.2 million.
And Chalikosa told the House that the Zambia Agriculture Integrated Systems had been enhanced to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the management of the FISP and national farmer data base in which during the 2018 -2019 farming season, a total of 9,998, 791 farmers, representing 99.9 per cent of the targeted one million beneficiaries, successfully deposited their contributions.