Estonian IT company Net Group has signed a memorandum of cooperation with the island of Zanzibar, an autonomous region of Tanzania.
The Tallinn-based Net Group said it was hired to develop IT-strategy for Zanzibar – mainly because the Estonian company has a long and extensive experience in East Africa and it also has a permanent local office in Dar es Salaam, a city in Tanzania.
Modernising the island’s economic model
Zanzibar, known as the birthplace of Freddie Mercury and an exclusive tourism destination, has an area approximately 18 times smaller than Estonia and is home to 1.5 million people.
An autonomous region of Tanzania, it is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 miles) off the coast of the mainland and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island.
Zanzibar’s economy has depended on tourism and agriculture, but now the state government wants to modernise the island’s economic model, starting with the digitalisation of the public sector.
“The Zanzibar government invited us to draw up a strategy and implementation plan mainly because Estonia’s IT capabilities are already well-known there. Net Group has a permanent office in Tanzania and we also have 10 years of experience in supporting various East African countries to implement their IT reforms,” Priit Kongo, the founder and CEO of Net Group, said in a statement.
A local task force
The primary focus areas of Zanzibar’s IT strategy are the creation and development of local IT capabilities, collectively known as Smart Hub Development.
“In practice, it’s a ‘task force’ of engineers created in cooperation of the public and private sectors – a task force able to maintain and develop IT solutions after their implementation. 10 years of experience in the region has shown that the critical challenge is to ensure local competence and capacity in the long run,” Kongo explained.
According to Abdi Zagar, Net Group’s innovation manager in Tanzania, the East African region is entering into a rapid phase of development in terms of the high-tech economy.
Net Group said the company will also open a branch in Zanzibar.
Cover: Zanzibar. Photo by Med J on Unsplash.