How ICT increases efficiency, output in the energy sector

Communication towers. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Experts say Tanzania needs to improve and expand its ICT infrastructure, including broadband connectivity and access to electricity in order to improve ICT

Dar es Salaam. It is beyond doubt that the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has increased efficiency in many areas of production and service delivery across the globe.

The use of ICT in energy and its benefits have already been seen in various areas of production such as power production.

Besides, the use of a smart grid has helped to reduce environmental impact.

That is why the need to improve and expand ICT infrastructure, including broadband connectivity, network coverage, and electricity access is inevitable. Doing so creates a solid foundation for ICT development and enable more people to access digital services.

The Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (Tarea) chairman, Mr Prosper Magali, told The Citizen recently that the use of ICT has helped a lot to improve service delivery, especially the payment systems through Pay-As-You-Go and monitoring. As a result, a large number of people, especially those with low incomes, have been able to get solar energy services in many villages.

He said before the development of ICT the customer who bought a solar system was required to pay in cash or with a special agreement, which resulted in a large number of citizens not being able to get the service, but after ICT they can provide a system and pay in installments.

"The biggest challenge is network services, there are some villages that have not been reached by mobile networks, so ICT is failing to work there, so we think there is a need for the government to increase investment," he said.

ICT has also helped in remote monitoring. Officers can monitor all the systems as they are used and the location while in the office, thus helping reduce the cost of technicians going for maintenance.

Recently, the government, under Universal Communications Service Access Fund (UCSAF) and Telecoms companies, signed an agreement that will see where we will see five telecommunication companies build 758 new towers worth Sh265.3 billion in 713 wards on the Mainland and upgrade to 3G and 4G other 304 towers that currently provide 2G internet services.

Commenting on the development,Vodacom Tanzania’s head of the Environment and Energy Management Department, Ms Glorious Kimaro, said energy-efficient ITs have played a key role in significantly reducing carbon emissions.

She said the introduction of technological avenues and processes, such as energy-saving features and automated systems, contributes to less energy being used in various operations, which in turn controls the effects of pollution produced by fossil fuels.

In addition to that, numerous initiatives are being carried out in our data centres that contributed significantly to energy savings in the last fiscal year.”

Given the amount of energy required to power telecom infrastructure, “We (Vodacom) are exploring various options to manage our energy efficiency by converting the majority of off-grid sites to the grid and hybrid solutions as well as investing in energy-saving initiatives projects.”

Telecommunication expert from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Dr Moses Ismail said if ICT is well used in factories, at home, and in places of professional training, it reduces the use of energy.

“For example, nowadays people are working from home. This helps to reduce the consumption of electricity in the office but the cars that pollute the environment also reduce consumption. In short, there are a number of benefits,” he said.

He said in order to improve ICT, Tanzania needs to improve and expand its ICT infrastructure, including broadband connectivity, network coverage, and access to electricity. This will create a solid foundation for ICT development and enable more people to access digital services.”

According to him, the government should enact friendly policies and regulations.

“We need to establish clear policies and regulations that support the growth of the ICT sector while ensuring fair competition and consumer protection. We need to create an enabling environment for investment in ICT infrastructure and services, and streamline bureaucratic processes to attract both domestic and foreign investment,” he said.

A look at telecom services subscriptions and penetration by region as of March 2023 reveals that Dar es Salaam ranks first by having 18 percent of all active subscriptions (10.9 million SIM Cards), Mwanza ranks second with 6.4 percent of all active subscriptions (3.96 million SIM cards), Arusha ranks third with 6.0 percent of all active subscriptions (3.71 million), Mbeya ranks fourth with 5.8 percent of all active subscriptions (3.59 million SIM Cards) and Dodoma ranks fifth in the top ranking regions by having 5.2 percent of all active subscribers (3.22 million SIM cards).

Regions with the lowest subscriptions are North Unguja with 0.09 percent of all active subscriptions (56,907 SIM Cards), South Unguja with 0.14 percent of all active subscriptions (88,267 SIM cards), and followed by North Pemba with 0.15 percent of all active subscriptions (94,686 SIM cards).

In a separate development, stakeholders of traditional medicines said studies must continue to be conducted to produce results and assure people believe in those medicines.

They said Tanzania has made progress in the use of traditional medicines and since many of them are used to treat various things. They said, for example, 98 percent of people of Zanzibar use natural plants for treatment or as food.

Discussing on the Contribution of Traditional Knowledge in the Development of Science and Technology in Tanzania during the last day of the 8th Science, Technology and Communication and Exhibition (Stice) which started on June 14 to 16, the stakeholders said 75 percent of modern medicines are based on the improvement of indigenous knowledge.

Organized by the Tanzania Science and Technology Commission (Costech) in collaboration with other stakeholders, the Stice brought together more 1000 academics, students and researchers inside and outside the country last week.

Speaking on the subject, the Director of the Institute of Traditional Medicine, Dr Joseph Otieno, said that various studies must continue to increase people's confidence in natural medicines, so they can believe that if they use them, they will not damage the kidneys or cause death.

He said institutions involved in natural medicine should cooperate instead of working independently to help expand the scope of this area and increase efficiency.

"If we want to move forward, we must implement what we agreed on in various meetings, otherwise this area of natural medicine cannot build trust in people and continue to use it," he said.

On the other hand, the Director General of the Zanzibar Health Research Institute (Zahri) Dr Mayassa Ally said, "we use natural medicines every day such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and others, which are all treated in Zanzibar, 98 percent of all people use those plants every day," it said.

She said that currently Zanzibar has recorded more than 300 plants that are claimed to be medicinal and research is being done to be able to get more results for human use.  Dr Mayasa added that countries like China and India are doing a big business in natural medicines, so now is the right time for local stakeholders to increase the value of natural medicines so that they can be sold on a large scale.