BY GEORGE KALISA
The fast growth in the number of mobile internet users recorded in EAC in nearly one-and-a-half years is widely seen as great achievement in the ICT Sector though it has taken place against a background of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The unprecedented rise in subscriptions to mobile internet services registered by telecommunications operators is hugely attributed to the increasing awareness across the region that ICT solutions play a central role in preventing further spread of the pandemic as well as managing economic recovery in the post COVID-19 era. Analysts in the region contend that this gain is a major breakthrough along the long journey to connect more EAC citizens to the mobile internet.
The growing realization that ICTs are more reliable and effective in tackling social and economic challenges in day-to-day activities is fast spreading to other sectors particularlyeducation, health, banking and transport. EACO has committed enormous efforts in promoting development of telecommunications, broadcasting and postal sectors since its establishment back in 2017.
Over the years, EACO in collaboration with partners has developed and implemented a long list of the best strategies to achieve fast, reliable, secure, affordable and efficient communication services. Drawing from the fascinating lessons learned when the pandemic was biting deeper into the marrows of the EAC
economy, now developers in the ICT industry echo a call to stakeholders to continue encouraging the use e-learning, e-health, e-commerce et cetera to reap the various benefits of ICT, especially in the tough times when the region is struggling to get back to its feet and manage economic recovery after heavy devastation by COVID-19. There is agreement by all
stakeholders that the best practices that were strengthened and popularized during the pandemic such as carrying out cashless transactions as opposed to physical money should be encouraged to reduce the risks of contracting COVID-19 and/or allay an emergence of a new wave of the pandemic. Rwanda is one of the partner states where the practice of paying for services electronically through a mobile phone is becoming more popular.
Despite variations in levels of citizens’ responsiveness in respective countries, the governments are doing whatever they can to encourage cashless transactions in the hospitality, trade, banking and transport sectors. Technology has eliminated congestion in service centres like banks alongside increasing convenience.
Experts at EACO think that partnership between educational institutions, internet services providers and media houses that started after the closure of school should be strengthened as it promotes learning in virtual reality. Vigilance of other stakeholders in other sectors particularly transport is equally important to prevent a new wave of Coronavirus.
Analysts in the region contend that this gain is a major breakthrough along the long journey to connect more EAC citizens to the mobile internet. The growing realization that ICTs are more reliable and effective in tackling social and economic challenges in day-to-day activities is fast spreading to other sectors particularly education, health, banking and transport.