A Look Back at ICE Tech’s Experience
In the ever-evolving landscape of government technology, attending conferences is not merely a choice, but a necessity. ICE Tech recognizes this, which is why our team eagerly participated in the Digital Government Africa 2023 Summit held in Lusaka from October 4th to 6th. This event, hosted at the Ciêla International Conference Centre, brought together high-profile representatives from various countries, including honorable ministers and even the President of Zambia himself, His Excellency Mr. Hakainde Hichilema.
To give you an idea of the summit’s magnitude, consider this: Tony Blair from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change joined President Hakainde Hichilema in addressing the delegation. The conference was blessed by many more high-profile individuals including, but not limited to, Mr. Percy Chinyama the National Coordinator for Office of the President, E-Government Division (SMART Zambia Institute) and Honorable Felix Mutati the Minister of Technology and Science, giving welcome to the delegation and overseeing discussions among esteemed delegates. Delegates, representing both public and private sectors, gathered to share insights, experiences, and ideas. Notably, private companies that were sponsors of the event were granted exhibition stands, and ICE Tech was one of them.
Key Takeaways and Highlights
The conference’s agenda was rich and diverse, encompassing introductions, speeches, and presentations in the morning, and interactive sessions with high-level representatives from different ministries in the afternoon. A central theme echoed throughout the conference was the “3 A’s” valued by citizens in terms of E-Government services: Availability, Access, and Affordability. While these principles are crucial for the successful delivery of digital government services, they present considerable challenges for many African countries.
A major hurdle identified is the lack of proper infrastructure, with particular emphasis on connectivity and citizens’ access to services through smartphones. Efforts by mobile operators and solutions like Starlink have made strides, but the infrastructure gap remains. To address the affordability concern, Zambia’s government aims to establish smartphone assembly sites in the country, to make these devices more accessible to its citizens. Private sector involvement and investment were highlighted as crucial components for success in implementing a government digitalisation plan.
Mr. Tony Blair emphasized the importance of ambition, focus, and determination in executing a digitalisation plan effectively. One promising aspect of Zambia’s journey is the existence of a National Electronic Government Plan, slated for implementation between 2023 and 2026.
Charting the Way Forward
The consensus reached at the Digital Government Africa 2023 Summit is clear: the government of Zambia is determined to implement its Digital Electronic Government Plan before the 2026 elections. This ambitious plan is complex and follows a top-down strategy, emphasizing constant engagement with key stakeholders, particularly private sector participation.
To align with the government’s plan and secure a role in it, ICE Tech is determined to deliver services that speak to its Mission: “To streamline and improve governments’ compliance and revenue collection capability by providing the resources and tools to improve service delivery and their citizens’ overall experience.” and Values: “To be open and honest; to support and care; customer-centric service; being passionate and innovative with a hunger for knowledge.”
Day 1: Insights and Highlights
Day 1 set a tone of determination and action, with prominent statements from key figures in the host government:
- Percy Chinyama, National Coordinator Smart Zambia, Office of the President, Smart Zambia
- Honorable Felix Mutati, Minister of Technology and Science
- Honorable Jack Mwiimbu, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security
Key areas of focus were Access to digital services, National Registration, Transport Corridors, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Digital Transformation Strategy, Revised ICT Policy, and Interoperability, which was a significant topic for Zambia.
Q&A sessions were held on various topics of Digitising Africa, one of them being Digital Government Infrastructure and the 5 pillars of digitalization: E-Government systems, Digital Payments, Digital Literacy, Digital Infrastructure, and Digital Accessibility. Key takeaways included the need for incentives, investment, innovation, and implementation to drive digitalization.
ICE Tech leveraged face-to-face meetings with various Zambian ministries to explore potential collaborations and initiatives:
- Ministry of Home Affairs & Internal Security discussed border solutions.
- Ministry of Finance discussed payment reconciliation and distribution solutions.
- Discussions with Smart Zambia encompassed the ICE Tech E-Government solutions.
Day 2: A Glimpse into the Future
Day 2 featured opening sessions from Rt Hon Tony Blair and President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, focusing on Africa’s youth population’s potential to drive technology adoption and economic growth. The importance of embracing AI and digitalization was underscored, highlighting the role these technologies play in enhancing security and avoiding economic stagnation.
Face-to-face meetings with representatives from Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, and Kenya offered opportunities for exploring potential collaborations:
- Tanzania Office of the President discussed border systems.
- Uganda Ministry of ICT & Innovation discussed various solutions including payment solutions, Transport Information systems, Tolling and Borders System solutions and stressed the importance of local partnerships.
- Ghana Ministry of Communications & Digitalization discussed the possibility of ICE Tech Solutions along with local partners in Ghana.
- Kenya Ministry of Information, Communication & Digital Economy discussed challenges and strategies for effective partnership.
The Road Ahead
These conferences are not just about the moment but also the future. ICE Tech’s engagement at the Digital Government Africa 2023 Summit opened doors for potential collaborations and initiatives in various African countries, demonstrating our commitment to leveraging technology for the greater good.
As ICE Tech continues to expand its presence and impact in the realm of government technology, we remain committed to delivering innovative solutions that empower nations and create a better digital future for all. Together, we can achieve the ambitious goal of providing governments with the resources and digital tools to improve service delivery and their citizens’ overall experience.
From ICE Tech we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the organizers of the Digital Government Africa 2023 Summit. This transformative event, hosted by the Government of Zambia in partnership with AfricanBrains provided a platform like no other. The dedication and effort of these organizers in bringing together high-profile delegates, fostering meaningful discussions, and facilitating connections between public and private sectors have not gone unnoticed. It is through these collaborative efforts that the Digital Government Africa 2023 Summit emerged as a pivotal gathering for innovators and change-makers in the realm of government technology.