Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mzumbe University to organize ICT training on fraud prevention for police force

MZUMBE University (Dar es Salaam Business School) has or4ganized a five day computer related crimes and frauds course for police force in the country. According rto the course coordinator, Dr. Kenneduy Mkutu, over 50 participants including law enforcement officers, bankers, insurance agencies, customs, revenues authorities, security officers from targeted areas like airports, harbours, power plants, banks and telecommunication firms will attend. The course would give an understanding of the types of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related crimes that take place in day’s life and how to prepare or prevent them. According to him, the participants will be exposed to ICT computer networks, the use of ICT in everyday life, internet and email cyber crimes, computers and frauds, computer crimes investigation, computer forensics and information security.
According to him, Mzumbe University is all out to provide knowledge and understanding of computer related crimes and frauds, and such criminal activities in the cyberspace were on the rise. Dr. Mkutu who is also a lecturer at the university says that cyberspace crime has potentially devastating impacts to businesses, public services, power plants, transport networks, ports, airlines, financial institutions and governments.
The course instructional approach will involve lectures, seminar, group discussions and presentations and at the end of the training, participants will be able to understand identity and demonstrate how to investigate preliminary computer crimes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A need for a remote sensing device to net criminals?

TECHNOLOGY making of various scientific research tools such as satellites have proved to be sensitive and through their powers people have been able to know exactly what lies within the horizon of what they cannot see. Should these satellites be transformed and made to work like a sensing device to warn people of the impending danger ahead? in this way, surely people in the world would be living in safe and without much troubles than what one would expect. To put the argument forward, there has been occurring extra-ordinary incidences such as theft which by any means have been inevitable to control and sometimes failed to get a solution, for a person who steals is not easily recognized and moreover thieves do not have marks on their bodies as an identification to prove what mischief they might have committed.
But as the world evolves with various technological innovations coming up, time will come when a device would be invented as a remote sensing organ to net thieves who keeps on troubling the innocent people in communities. About three years ago, in the city of Dar es Salaam, an old man Thomas Ogola who had traveled all the way from his home village in up-country region came to the city in order to collect his dues which he had toiled for before his retirement in late 1970s
He is among hundreds of some retirees of the defunct East African Community who were paid their terminal benefits three years ago, though currently Tanzanian government is delaying paying other retirees’ terminal benefits since its collapse over 30 years ago. The exercise took place in the city of Dar es Salaam. Quite a good number of them have not yet been paid, an aspect which has forced some of them to stage a demonstration to pressurize the government into paying them.
A day after Mr. Ogola had received his money, unknown people broke into the room of a house in which he was accommodated by one of his relatives residing in Karakata suburb on the outskirts of the city and successfully made away with the whole sum.As if his life had depended on it, Mr. Ogola lamented bitterly without no any help of recovery. As the pangs of solitude still redoubles up his mind at that time, he couldn’t have any alternative to do nor finding a possible solution to the problem that had befallen him, except he accepted the situation. Actually, this is a terrible blow one cannot forget in his life. There are so many theft incidences of this kind which occurs in people’s selected residential settlements and are very sad to narrate. Police efforts to net the criminals or tracing of their whereabouts always proves futile and sometimes becomes difficult under normal circumstances, an aspect which critically causes a great desperation indeed.
Ogola (now 84 years old) was working under Railways and Harbours Corporation one of the units formed within the jurisdiction of the community whose office headquarter by then was based in Nairobi-Kenya, and he retired in a high ranking position of a senior Station Master. During his tenure in the office, he had been working on a transfer basis rotating in all three countries (Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda) respectively as per the schedules of the office work routine, and this was done periodically for the whole years he had been in service. Just imagine if there could be an ICT component innovated to work as a remote sensing device able to detect where criminals are in a society and in the world at large, or an ICT component able to indicate the impending danger ahead, the successful innovation of such a device could be easier and more helpful to get rid of all mischief including wrong doers in a society. With such a proposed innovative development concepts, related problems such as thefts which are arising in the communities could be prevented and controlled with ease and get better solutions.
By using detectors, peace could be attained in most parts of the world and people would leave in harmony because wrong doers including terrorists would refrain from doing their mischief for fear of their presence to be detected right from the scene of crime.
Mr. George Kandwalo, a city based Information Technology expert, one day contributed in a debate which overlooked the possibility that could be developed by global scientists to innovate a device through their research findings which could detect people’s secret doings. Such type of a device should be innovated in order to define happenings or intentions of the people and remotely controlling the movements of wrong doers. He said in a workshop organized to research internet as an investigative tool which was recently conducted in Dar es Salaam. However, he was on the views of the fact that, since internet has proved to be a powerful research tool that increases the pace of globalization, therefore, with the technological advancements and research findings, remote sensing devices can be possible. Alongside with his assumption, He suggested that with the help of powerful surveillance electronics, professional ICT scientists should design satellites which could enable trace criminals wherever they move after committing a crime somewhere. In this way, he said that such things would help people trace their stolen properties and easily apprehend the suspects and recover their stolen properties on the spot. However, if such devices could be made available in today’s world, people like Ogola and others would not get in troubles and probably would easily manage to recover their stolen properties.Theft has grown at an alarming rate in most big towns and cities in the country, there has been reported regular incidences related with burglaries which goes alongside with indiscriminate killings of innocent people when they refuse to submit whatever they have once attacked by bandits.
Police force seems to have failed to curb with the increasing phenomenon, and even if the police apprehends the suspected culprits and take them to court, in most cases culprits are virtually freed on the grounds of insufficient evidences gathered to prove beyond any reasonable doubt of any involved malpractices.
However, with recent spate of daylight bank robberies that spiraled Dar es Salaam city, Arusha Moshi, in the country, billions of money have been forcibly snatched and disappeared into the hands of few untrustworthy individuals. But the presence of a remote sensing devices could enable to intercept the action and save huge sum of money.
Lack of good governance sometimes contributes to the insecurity of the precious government properties. The concept of efficiency is worthwhile for the early warning remote sensing systems in order to curb with the impending situation.
However, though the world is highly advancing technologically, there is a great change of human development and various ICTs devices such as the mobile phones have been designed to trace people who steal them. This is a unique innovative use of an ICT tool for sensing mechanism. There is a wonderful incident which occurred in August 2006 in Rosario-Argentine in South America whereby three robbers were caught after they had taken pictures of themselves with a mobile phone they had stolen. A mobile phone was programmed in such a manner that when robbers were flashing their images, it automatically posted their own pictures online unknowingly. The mobile was set up to send every pictures taken to the owner’s personal web page. After the pictures were posted, they were analyzed by the police and all three robbers were immediately identified and later on were arrested for interrogation. According to a policeman, “little did they know that all their pictures were being instantly sent to a webpage. They took so many and therefore it was very easy to identify them. This was the easiest arrest ever” police said. The incident is related more or less like a car tracking devices whose working mechanisms have been designed to trace the whereabouts of the stolen cars and gets recovered with ease. Car tracking is easy for everyone with the Global Positioning System (GPS) which consists of a set of 24 operational satellites and land based controlled stations. The system was designed for the US Dept of Defense and has been made available worldwide. A car or vehicle tracking is a security system that allows the police or an operator to track the location of the vehicle by monitoring a signal in the event it is stolen. According to a report compiled by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) entitled “The internet of Things” which was launched in Tunis in 2005, during the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), science fiction is about to become science fact. The report describes if one day a smart ICT device would ever serve as butlers and secretaries on behalf of human beings. The report also puts down an argument of the reality if cars can drive people wherever they want once ordered to do so, asks the lead author of the report Professor Nicholas Negroponte of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.“The days of just being a thing are over” he added, because in future objects will have personalities capable of being internet users and communicators on behalf of human beings. The Internet of Things foresees a technological revolution that depends on dynamic innovation in a number of important areas namely “tagging” using Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to alert parents about their children’s whereabouts. The world is standing on the brink of technological ubiquity as everyday objects become sensitive to people’s needs. Robot science is creating appliances to help the elderly and the disabled. Research is underway to apply Nano-technology in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases including HIV/AIDS. Sensor technologies will warn people of impending natural disasters or detect landmines in conflict zones.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Why internet sometimes fails to deliver

INTERNET has been proved to be a driving force for quick business transactions and it has shown a great success that has been envisaged in many of its operational work. But it sometimes fails to deliver correctly due to its low speed. Have you ever thought of what is likely to be the main cause of poor internet services? Users have had their business transactions stopped or paralyzed due to this, a result of which it renders quick service delivery at the customers’ service points. In a normal circumstances, inside a cyber café around for instance, a lot could be attributed to such shadow experiments either by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), or low bandwidth depending on the level of users’ economic empowerment. The key issue in engendering the level of Internet service delivery is bandwidth deployed by an individual or corporate for Internet access offered by the ISPs. Like in any business setting, bandwidth therefore is important to market when it comes to offering and receiving good Internet service.
The bigger the capacity of bandwidth an operator as ISP or cyber café cum small scale enterprises have medium, the better for them, which means more customers on their network or business centres. Lack of reliable ICT infrastructure in the country, is another problem that drives away the desperate stakeholders as far as poor internet services is concerned.
IT experts also worries on the compelling problems which include poor telephone services. They link the existing problem of the service to poor telephone usage via dial-up connection from which the Internet could not be achieved due to faulty telephone lines. Wherever there is a service to be offered by help of computers that concerns with cash handling such as in the banks, normal cases of internet failure usually occurs, and the weary customers standing on the queue are told to wait for a while as technicians are busy working on the computers to solve the problems.
With the use of internet, most commercial banks in Tanzania are now striving as hard to remain competitive and innovative to cope with the technologically ever changing world, especially in the payment systems in order to make their transaction much quicker.
Likewise in ordinary operating cafes in cities and in towns, high speed internet access is necessary to avoid congestion which sometimes occurs whenever there is low speed of the internet, an aspect that cause desperation to the waiting customers.
But with the newly introduced technology of systematizing quick digital access, the Infinet ADSL is the solution to all these problems. Before the introduction of this high speed internet connections in Tanzania, most web users had to rely on slow dial-up connections.

Children playing games in an internet café, high speed internet access enables them to facilitate their need

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is an existing digital modern technology that provides high speed internet access over ordinary telephone wires. It permits normal voice telephone conversation and internet data to be transmitted simultaneously over an existing telephone line.
The product which was firstly introduced by the leading ISP in the country, the Africa Online Ltd in March 2006 eliminates common problems experienced during dial-up. With these products which proves high proficiency, they have tailored solution to meet clients’ needs. According to General Manager of the Africa Online (T) Ltd, Mr. Ken Munyi, the product (ADSL) has much faster connectivity with dial-up modems rated at 57 Kbs per second and operate at about 53 Kbs. He says, ADSL has been designed to cater for consumers with low internet or email usage, however, it is operating in a difference frequency and the phones can be used normally even when surfing.
It also caters for small, medium and large business with a wide range of products and services that address the most demanding of needs whether a company requires a single point connectivity solution or a complex multi-point network solution.
Africa Online is a multi-national company operating in more than 16 countries in Africa and has a wide range of products including Broadband Wireless Internet Access (BWIA) whose network has been implemented using alvarion wireless equipment and managed frequencies of 3.5 GHz and 10.5GHz.
Others include Leased Line Internet Access (LLIA) VSAT Internet connectivity, dial-up access, website design and development, website hosting, domain registration and hosting. According to national government ICT policy setup, Tanzanian government is ready to work with companies in ICT to expose more Tanzanians to advanced modern technologies emerging in this era of science and technology.

Friday, February 13, 2009

How partnerships can help bridge the Digital Divide

THE Digital Divide is defined as a gap between people who can effectively use new information and communication tools such as internet, mobile phones etc and those who cannot. This gap has increasingly rendered human capacity into ineffective in terms of providing services and information giving to the community. But with the use of partnerships these can help clear the digital problem in a society. narrates
African continent is still lagging behind in the usage of the information technologies and their applications in the world, and the reason for this is increasingly because of the digital divide. Most African nations fails to coordinate their sector development activities basically due to lack of knowledge and unreliable access to the available Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools.
Statistics shows that about 80 percent of the African rural communities living in Sub-Saharan region are faced with extreme poverty and as a result, people’s social and economic development has been deteriorating continuously year after year due to financial capability. Indeed the lack of communication skills and insufficiency use of modern communication tools has become a stumbling block to mankind development a factor that has slowed down the pace of globalization in Africa.
Some development analysts see the issue of the digital divide as a cause of poverty and underdevelopment. They believe that as the global economy becomes more and more dependent on ICT, people who are not able to use the technologies will be increasingly excluded. Others point out that the digital divide is now part of an overall development divide and therefore opportunities for increasing communication channels should be seen as a core activity of development.
In a bid to find solutions to local communities for ICT access problems, leaders and financial donors always collaborate mainly with the rural populations where the situation is worse, and the civil society to take stock of the reality of the situation and avoid proposing not only inappropriate, but unacceptable socio-cultural solutions.
Everyone, especially the rural populations acknowledges that modern ICTs are wonderful tools for development and efficient management which however ensures a conducive working environment. In order to embrace ICTs as key elements towards improving productivity and modern communication mechanisms, the rural area needs at least basic economic and social infrastructures such as roads, water, food, electricity, literacy (education) etc.
These incentives cannot be attained unless government have to set a special fund in their national budgets to run the projects. But it’s unfortunate that, most African governments depends on the donor funding to ease their development processes, hence the idea of such prospective projects ends up in vain if sufficient money is not available for the intended purposes. But through partnerships people are brought together to share a common interest that consumes valuable resources as well as time, and efforts that might not be available in a single organization or institution to end the digital problem. Partnerships can be described as a mutual, supportive arrangement between organizations, agencies, businesses, and/or communities with the purpose of addressing a problematic situation.
In this spirit, individuals, businesses, organizations, institutions, communities, and governing bodies need to collectively unite the creative minds and develop ideas that will address the issue to end the multifaceted problem of the Digital Divide. This is the power of partnerships whose key is to involve people that have expertise and interest in these areas with the purpose of acquiring a complete picture of the variables involved and finding solutions to the problems identified. This can be done by advocacy through various IT organizations, educators, social service providers, research institutions and government officials. These groups need to work collectively on the issue and disseminate the group activities and findings.
The Digital Divide is an enormous dilemma for all people, not just people with disabilities. By demonstrating that partnerships are a successful and effective tool in addressing the variables involved in the Digital Divide, it will be easier to get others to support and participate in these efforts. According to one researcher, Dr. Taylor Kearns of the US based International Center for Disability Resources for Internet (ICDRI), partnerships are tools that can help address issues in all their complexity, identify options, and deliver resources more powerfully and effectively than any one organization or business can possibly do. However, in order for partnerships to work, they need to be organized, implemented, and evaluated successfully. Those involved in partnerships need to have a vested interest in the success of the partnership.
The digital gap is the least of concerns of the rural world as it is plagued by internal social problems which are common to several African countries. At national level, there is great need to curb the extreme disparities between towns and countryside at different areas such as health, education and training, drinking water, transportation, etc.
The important issue here is how ICTs can solve numerous social, economic, agricultural and digital problems currently afflicting the global village, continents and governments as well. Over the past eight years or so there have been several projects in Africa that have brought Information and Communication Technologies to rural and other disadvantaged communities. Some of these have worked well, many others have had problems related to technical, managerial, social or financial aspects.
In Tanzania for examples, there are about 20 most famous Tele-centers which are donor-funded such as the ones established by ITU- UNESCO-IDRC. These have shown that some ICTs are welcomed and used when established in rural areas of Africa. These offer some useful services, though are often very expensive to use. The centers are financially sustainable though their link to wider development is questionable. In several countries there are ICT projects attached to specific government project where the technology supports an existing service. The largest of these are the many school ICT projects (School net Africa works in over 20 African countries). There are other examples of ICT being used in health clinics to support Tele-health and Tele-medicine, of ICTs in agricultural extension projects and in Small-business support.
The IT training in most parts of Africa is still inadequately financed despite being the important sector which helps to speed up globalization processes and the disadvantaged areas in Africa face great challenges. This is due to the fact that, in many areas there is great poverty - with many countries facing famine. Infrastructure is lacking in many areas, and few people have the formal skills in ICT. However, the difficulty of running ICT projects in remote areas has led to the failure or difficulties with many projects. Lack of technical skills, spare parts, finances and other issues compound the difficulty for many of these centres. There are also a number of smaller community based ICT projects, with the equipment being used by a community organization or NGO to support their services, as with community radio or other local development projects. In rural Tanzania, the IT sector through the program formed three years ago known as Lang Management Program (LAMP), has introduced internet facilities to a number of districts in the country in a bid to bridge the digital divide. The program that is conducted under the auspices of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), aims at helping the poor get more access to the ICTs in the country.

What is community’s perception on vulnerable children in relation to HIV/AIDS

AIDS is striking at the heart of families and communities. It is an unprecedented global development challenge which has already caused too much hardship, illness and untimely death. The pandemic affects individuals, devastates households and communities and now threatens entire nations. Tanzania already had long severe AIDS epidemics that is generating orphans so quickly that family structures can no longer cope. As the number of adult deaths is rising now and then, an increasing number of orphans is growing up without parental care and love. The increased spiral of adult deaths means that the number of children orphaned each day is expanding exponentially. Families and communities can barely fend for themselves, leaving behind a generation of children to be raised by their grandparents. The vulnerability of AIDS orphans starts well before the death of a parent. Children living with caregivers often experience many negative changes in their lives and can start to suffer emotional neglect even before the death of the parent or caregiver. In Tanzania, there have been traditional systems in place to take care of children who lose their parents for various reasons. But the onslaught of HIV slowly but surely erodes this good traditional practice by simply overloading its caring capacity by the sheer number of orphaned children needing support and care. A larger proportion of orphans in the country have lost their parents to AIDS than to any other cause of death - meaning that, were it not for the AIDS epidemic, these children would not have been orphaned. The government estimates that there are about 2.5 millions of them here in Tanzania. The economic impact of HIV/AIDS illness and death has serious consequences for an orphan's access to basic necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, health and education. Orphans run greater risks of being malnourished than children who have parents to look after them. In addition there is the emotional suffering of the children which usually begins with their parents' distress and progressive illness. Eventually, the children suffer the death of their parent(s) and the emotional trauma that results. They then may have to adjust to a new situation, with little or no support, and they may suffer exploitation and abuse.
The distress and social isolation experienced by these children, both before and after the death of their parent(s), is strongly exacerbated by the shame, fear, and rejection that often surrounds people affected by HIV/AIDS. Because of this stigma and often-irrational fear surrounding AIDS, children may be denied access to schooling and health care. And once a parent dies, children may also be denied their inheritance and property. The only way forward is prevention and care. Preventing more adults from becoming infected with HIV in the future, and providing treatment and care, will prevent even more children from becoming orphans in the future. In the early days of the AIDS orphan crisis, there was a rush by well meaning non-governmental organizations to build orphanage centres. But this response was unsustainable given the scale of the problem as the cost of maintaining a child in such an institution needs great care. Most people now believe that orphans should be cared for in family units through extended family networks, foster families and adoption, and that siblings should not be separated. But the extended family can only serve as part of the solution to mass orphan hood if adequately supported by the state, community and other sectors. The community needs to be supportive of children when they are orphaned. Orphans need to be accepted as part of the community and to have access to essential services such as health care and education. A variety of different community organizations in the country do now provide support for orphans, and the government does encourage communities to provide care for orphans within the community, and to rely on institutional care only as a last resort. Mapambano Centre for Children’s Rights (MCCR) is a good example of a community organization that is committed to care for orphans and vulnerable children with their basic needs in the country. This is a Non-governmental Organization formed in Mkuranga district in Coast region in 2002. The firm has been in the forefront in assisting orphanage centres with the basic necessities to cater for their daily basic life such as clothing, beddings, food and assistances for medical treatment. According to the firm’s Secretary, Mr. Joseph Onyango since the establishment of the NGO, they have helped more than 1,800 orphans and vulnerable children from various orphanage centres in the country. Mapambano Centre has its branch offices located in Himo-Moshi, Bagamoyo and in Nachingwea. Another community organization is the Youth Disabled Development Fund (YDDF) based in Pugu Kajiungeni on the outskirts of the city of Dar es Salaam. This is an NGO formed in 2003 with the main objective of supporting disabled orphans and vulnerable children According to the Managing Director, Mr. Evans Mwakyusa, his firm provides day care support for disabled orphans and vulnerable children throughout in the country. In recent years, Tanzanian government established a National Orphan Care Task Force. The Task Force is made up of various representatives and organizations which are responsible for planning, monitoring and revising all programmes on orphan care. An important aspect of the government's strategy has been to promote and support community based programmes, and in both rural and urban areas across Tanzania, communities are developing a variety of ways to cope with the growing crisis of AIDS orphans whose parents have died of AIDS disease. In many villages orphan committees have been established to monitor the local situation and to take collective action to assist those in need.

Protection and support for orphans needs a joint concerted efforts

AS you drive along the 72 Km tarmac road which connect Tarime district and Musoma town in Mara region, immediately on the right hand side of the road, lies a small village called Gamasara. The village is located five kilometers away from Tarime town.
The village which has approximately 600 families in it recently became a victim of the bloody tribal clashes which exists between the two famous Wakurya tribal clans of Wasweta and the Waryenchoka ethnic groups in the district.
Gamasara village is among the most hit villages within Tarime district which has been affected by HIV/AIDS disease, and statistics in the village shows that quite a substantial number of people have died of the pandemic since its outbreak over two decades ago.
Julius Mwikwabe (67) a retired army officer, now engaged in farming activities in the village is lamenting for the frequent deaths caused by HIV/AIDS diseases among youths and middle aged people in the village. For himself, he bitterly laments for he had recently lost a daughter and two sons who died of HIV/AIDS disease five years ago. However, he is now taking care of his grand children.
He said together with the extended family of his own, he manages to take care of his six grand children with the help of his three wives whom he said are energetic enough in farming activities that ultimately enables them earn a living.
However, a horrible look and a sympathetic situation is seen to his immediate neighbour in a compound with three traditional houses whose owner MR. Zakaria Joseph, a 81 year old man entirely blind, is now assisted by his orphaned grandchildren.
Mr. Joseph, who due to his age, is now a bed-ridden and has no more strength to produce a substantial work to make him survive. Inside his hut sits his wife Sabina (71), she looks a little bit energetic enough to support her grandchildren. She is able enough to do some manual work for the family.
Between them they had given birth to nine children eight were now dead and the ninth, alas, was clearly dying. On the floor of the hut, jammed together with barely room to move or breathe, were 12 orphaned children ranging in age from two to sixteen. It is now common place that grandmothers are the caregivers for orphans. "The grandmothers are impoverished, their days are numbered, and the decimation of families is so complete that there’s often no one left in the generation coming up behind. We’re struggling to find a viable means to help the couples and the family”, says Severine Ryoba a village Chairman. He said the village is planning to take the children of the family below 10 years for care to the newly opened Tarime Orphanage Trust centre to relieve them with the burden of taking care of them. Their survival has largely been depending on the help by the sympathizers around.
It is very sympathetic indeed and very sad to narrate, one cannot control tears flowing down their chicks on looking at the isolated children who seems to have used to the environment. But lucky enough the eldest three takes more time calming the young ones when crying as the couples are now helpless.
One of the most devastating aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is the growing proportion of children the disease has orphaned. Unlike most diseases, HIV/AIDS generally kills not just one, but both parents. On top of the psychological impact of losing one’s parents, children who lose their parents to AIDS are often stigmatized or ostracized by their communities. These children are often much more at risk of becoming a victim of violence, exploitative child labour, discrimination or other abuses. What is more, the stigmatization and discrimination that people affected with HIV often live with is passed onto their children, making their fight for survival that much more precarious. Surviving children face malnutrition, illness, physical and psychosocial trauma, and impaired cognitive and emotional development. Unaccompanied girls are at especially high risk of sexual abuse. And because of all this, they too are very likely to become HIV-positive. When parents or caregivers fall sick and die, children are orphaned and a child’s life often falls apart. The entire family feels the economic impact in the sense that the majority of the children becomes street children. Other impacts are related to school dropouts, the attitude which later drives them to child labour extremes, and for girls are vulnerable to sexual abuse in domestic housework because of the stigma attached to their orphaned status. Studies from numerous regions in the country have shown that orphaned children have substantially lower levels of education than children who are not orphaned. But extended families traditionally steps in to take care of these children. 14 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa region under the age of 15 have lost one or both parents to AIDS. By 2010, this number is expected to exceed to 25 million. Without urgent and a collective action, millions more children will face enormous risks in their struggle to stay alive. Tanzania is among the Sub-Saharan countries in Africa which has been affected by the scourge. Statistics by the government through the Ministry of Health and Social services estimates that there are about 2.5 million orphans in the country whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS disease.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How TBA gears for housing development schemes in Tanzania

TANZANIA Building Agency (TBA) has constructed a total of 955 government houses worth Tshs. 37.7 billion between 2002 the time the agency was inaugurated up to December 2008. In total, the agency has constructed over 2000 houses countrywide for other commercial and renting purposes. It has been learnt. Within the period under review, TBA has spent a total sum of Tshs. 5.3 billion for renovation and repair of its head quarter office building located along Sokoine Drive opposite Karimjee Hall in Dar es Salaam. Within the said period, TBA has rented its 584 houses to public servants, and it has collected the sum of Tshs. 9.4 billion, the amount it has received from property tax of its commercial compartments and other houses hired by the public servants in the country. This information is contained in TBA’s annual implementation report prepared for the parliamentary infrastructure committee members amnd which was issued in mid of January 2009 According to the report, in the period under ereview, TBA has succeeded to sell its houses to some public servants who had fulfiled the legal procedures introduced by agency’s administrative board members that requires them to settle their debts up to December 2008. The report says that TBA expects to collect an estimated amount of money amounting to Tshs. 57.1 billion in ten years to come since the start of this exercize. Since the sale of government houses started in 2002, a total of about Tshs. 40.1 billion has been collected as up to December 2008. The amount collected is equivalent to 70 percent of the total sales, whereas the debt owned is Tshs. 17 billion which is equivalent to 29 percent. Debts the agency owes to its customers are required to be settled within four years’ time or before a customers’ retirement depending on their job contracts.

A newly constructed commercial house for TBA in Kinondoni district, Dar es Salaam region.

Together with the total house sales, 473 public servants have not yet fulfilled their contract laid down procedures due to various reasons whereby the values estimated for their houses is Tshs. 1.7 billion Following the sales accrued from these houses, a total of 2,764 workers have finished to pay their debts from the house loan they had taken. Since its establishment in 2002, the agency has been consistently issuing consultancy services to less than 294 projects in the country. Out of these, more than 142 projects are complete whereas the rest are still in various steps of its implementation. The agency has collected a total of Tshs. 7.8 billion as consultancy fees from its clients since 2002 up to December 2008. Either the agency is still owes its clients a total sum of Tshs. 1.4 billion which has not been paid up to now, though the fee notes as well as the Government Bills have been sent to them several times. In another development, most TBA’s buildings have been designed to cope with the disabled need by placing special raised stairs known as RAMP including lifts, special levatories for the sake of use of disabled persons. The agency is primarily concerned with the issuance of building permits for government houses and providing consultancy services to the government on all matters concerning with the procurement of government tenders and their buildings by following the laid down regulations governing procurement procedures as indicated in Procurement Act No. 21 of 2004. For the last three years, the agency has issued 83 legal permits to government offices, and other 62 permits to public servants who were sold government houses. A total of 145 permits have so far been issued to increase the agency’s revenues to the sum of Tshs. 1.4 which has bere accounted for the scrunity fee. The revenue estimates attained by Tanzania Building Agency (TBA) since its inauguration has been showing an annual tremendous increase from Tshs. 3.9 billion in 2002 to Tshs. 16.0 billion for the financial year 2008/09. This is an increase of 412 percent. The revenue attained came from three major sources of income, and these are the main projects the TBA currently engaged with. They include, the sale of the agency’s houses, House rent collected from houses which belonged to the agency and which has been hired to government employees, and revenues attained from other commercial houses rented to the general public including businessmen who are able to pay rent. Other income from which TBA attains its money from the work it does includes the consultancy fees. This is the money the agency receives from the technical advice administered by the TBA in all matters related to building and construction works in general with specific targets to the government houses and their institutions. Either, the specific revenue collections in general have been increasing annually from Tshs. 3.6 billion in 2002 to Tshs. 13.3 billion in the financial year of 2008/09. This is an increase of approximately 368 percent. Since its inauguration seven years ago, TBA has been preoparing a strategic implementation program of its regular responsibilities every year. This program and action of plan comes from a strategic five year plan which was prepared immediately after its inauguration. The action plan is being implemented in due regard of the annual expenditure estimates which are normally prepared depending on the types of works already in pipeline throughout in a concerned period of the financial year. According to the report, the agency’s budget estimates of the expenditure has been increasing year after year whereby in the 2002/03 financial year, the budget estimates was Tshs. 3.7 billion, compared to Tshs. 15.8 for the 2008/09 financial year. There has been an increase of Tshs. 12.0 billion on the part of its expenditure. Either, an average of a true expenditure has been growing year after year to Tshs. 11.4 billion for the financial year ending June 30th 2008. The report shows that, when TBA was inaugurated it started with the true expenditure with Tshs. 4.6 billion. Currently there has been an increase of a true expenditure of Tshs. 6.8 billion. The constant increase of the financial expenditure has been moving parallel with the implementation of various responsibilities assigned by TBA. Some of these responsibilities are the construction of government leaders’ houses and those of the ordinary surbodinates, the renovation works on these houses, the purchase of the furnished household materials to be installed in various government’s leaders houses, the purchase of permanent properties and other related TBA operations activities.

Tanzania needs e-strategies to support people with disability

TANZANIA needs to quickly develop a strategy to enable disabled people to access a wealth of information available locally and globally. That was recently emphasized by Jim Jonazi, a facilitator at a video conference discussion on the access and use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for disabled persons project which was held at Tanzania Global Development Learning Centre (TGDLC)
According to him, while Tanzania has electronics policy on disabled persons, yet it does not have a strategy to implement it. Thus making its successes a dream. He emphasized that for the government to serve the disabled people in the ICT era, it must come up with a strategy to implement the existing e-policy for disabled people.
Contributing to a debate, Mr. Tarek Ben Yousef, a National Director ministry of solidarity and a project leader from Tunisia noted that according to the census made in 2003-2004 in Tunisia, the disabled population was about 152,000 persons. He therefore emphasized in order to give disabled persons access to learning knowledge and culture, and leisure activities in accordance with education, there must be an adequate use of information and communication technologies.
According to him, ICT application is widely available in all special; education centers and inclusive schools in Tunisia, service that give disabled people access to higher training levels and therefore facilitate economic insertion.
During the discussion, a Srilankan head of ICT Mr. Chitranganic Mubarack added that the current status of using ICT in their country is very far and is being applied in all education programs as well as in virtual schools. He noted that the Tele-service offices that enable disabled people to remotely access different services, such as social-economic and cultural information, communication administration are already in existence.
TGDLC that Tanzania used to hook to the other countries is a member of the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) with over 120 networked development communication hubs globally. Its core function is to enable decision makers at all level professional and practitioners to access and share the wealth of knowledge and experience availability in the world through the global communication system that includes video conference, internet video,. VR-ROM and print.

Modern thinking sweeps myths aside

MYTHS meaning things that many people believe but that do not exist or are false, have been around almost from the beginning of humans life itself. For instance, until the 19th century, most of European countries still had a belief that in fairies of human like tiny creatures that had magic powers. As children back in our school days, people used to believe that sharpening a pencil on both ends was an insult to one’s mother. None of the people did it but to this day people do not have no idea as to the origin of the belief. There is devastating power in laughter and however was foolhardy enough to it, was laughed at with almost shuttering effect for his schooldays. The other and rather funny myth involved the popular leapfrog game among children, which was said to stunt the growth of the one jumped over. We did it many times often exchanging roles but none of us became any the shorter. Gone are the days when it was taboo to point a finger at a graveyard for whoever did that according to that myth, would imminently lose a loved one. It was also not normal to see people passing through cemeteries save for times of burial.

Dar es Salaam residents, the so-called jobless youths who spends most of their time throughout a day in open graveyards, whereby they engage in various businesses and other immoral things and without shame, some are seen seated on top of a cemented grave seemingly without giving it a thought. Who is actually to blame? The city council authorities who seemed to have failed top create a fencing compound? This is Karume graveyard in Ilala near regional commissioner’s office in Dar es Salaam.

Cemeteries were still associated with many horror stories. Apart from being places where the dead rested in peace, graveyards were also believed to be the abode of evil spirits. Thus looked at carefully, as far as cemeteries are concerned. People tended to fear more encounter with the ghosts of death than the dead. Before being placed by superior faith, myths reigned until societies received new light. In the case of Europe, widespread beliefs in Christianity did not necessarily wipe out stories of fairies. In fact fairies were often the invisible hand in William Shakespeare’s comedies, plays and poems. Some 500 years after, he remained the greatest weavers of tragedies in literature. Many African societies believed that, the dead, if disturbed, could rise from their dark world to haunt the living. That fear led people not to build houses near graveyards. Thus it was not usual to find a house or any other building near graveyards.

A good example of a fenced graveyard in Kinondoni-Mkwajuni in Dar es Salaam. Should most graveyards look like this one in the city, it could restore respect of the dead laid to rest in such cemetery grounds.

Some years back, a group of thugs exploiting that myth staggered from the Kinondoni graves in Dar es Salaam and hobbled towards a nearby bar. The pandemonium that followed was behind belief. Seemingly confident people who were downing their beer, presumably after a hard day’s work scattered in all directions to save their lives from vengeful ghosts. Criminals had exploited a popular myth to commit a crime in a manner that was almost impossible to investigate save only if one of them had been caught. But who would stand in the way of ghost guest not even a policeman. The fear of death did some people not to dare get near a copse, let alone to touch it. But all that is changing . Houses are now being built very close to graveyards and stories are bound either defiling tombs of graves in ways and manner that would have involved the several curse in the heyday of belief in myths.

Part of the fenced graveyard as it can be seen with some little buildings near to it.

Footpaths through graveyards, if not fenced off are quite common these days. People can now be seen sitting or even napping on tomb stories. Graves are the internal homes of the dead ones, their souls have ascended to heaven, there is nothing to fear about them, says Tom Wanyonyi, a priest at St. Dominic Parish, Mbezi Juu on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city. Father Wanyonyi adds that people are more aware of what death is and have come to accept it as normal ending of human life. That is why they have now built houses near graveyards. “What lies in tombs is mere bones, and what we ought to do is to pray for the souls of our departed life, as we believe in life after death” says father Dominic. The fact that people nowadays die in other people’s hands and other reach a point of touching and kissing their loved ones when paying their last respects, signifies that people no longer mystify death as was the case in the past. Muhidini Hassan from the Hajj department at the Muslim council of Tanzania (BAKWATA) says that it is not good to encroach on land set aside for cemeteries. Living near cemeteries posed neither social nor spiritual problems but warns against defiling the resting places for the dead. He gave the examples of early Dar es Salaam residents like Mzee Kopa and Mwinyijuma of Mwananyamala suburb in Dar es Salaam city who offered their free land for burial in 1960s. But when the city became more and more congested, people started encroaching on the land. Hassan attributes all that to ignorance of the holy scriptures from both the Christians and Muslims. Moral decay and the effect of globalization whereby peddling nudity has become normal.


Is the National ICT policy implemented to achieve the goal?

Tanzania’s National ICT policy was prepared under the auspices of the then Ministry of Communication & Transport, now termed as the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and released on March 2003. The policy is a sole compass for all ICT driven activities in the country with a view to ensure an effective implementation of the IT knowledge so as to spruce up national economic development goals.
Everybody can agree with the fact that, the implementation of the ICT initiatives in Tanzania is moving at a snail pace despite the country embarked on the development of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) about a decade ago.
However, since the policy came into being, little has been done in terms of mainstreaming the ICT sector and the entire activities, including the application of the Information Technology.
The mission statement of this policy is “To enhance nation-wide economic growth and social progress by encouraging beneficial ICT activities in al sectors through providing a conducive framework for investments in capacity building and in promoting multi-layered cooperation and knowledge sharing locally as well as globally”.
Despite of the fact that Tanzania is the first country within Sub-Saharan region to establish own ICT policy, much emphasis has not been put to prioritize the usage and the application of the basic ICT tools for national development.
Analysts within the sector say that there is a negligence to a full commitment by government on dealing with the issues related with the ICT development in the country despite of the fact that a number of obstacles such as poor infrastructure and illiteracy still exists among users.
The National ICT policy is linked to both Communication Acts and Telecommunication Acts. Other Acts and policies directly relevant to ICT include the Broadcasting services Act of 1993 and the Broadcasting services policy that is currently under review.
Drafting of a national ICT policy implementation strategies is a broad based task force under the current ministry of Technology and Communication. The policy has been deliberately aligned to Tanzania’s Development Vision 2025, and to the great dismay, little has been reformed to boost the sector.
ICT is defined as the ability to manage and manipulation of information including the conduit to transmit this data to various recipients in different parts of the country, regionally as well as globally. It has the prerequisite that users must be literate and be able to sustain ICT implementation and have absorption capacity.
According to National ICT Coordinator in the country, Engineer Augustine Kowero, in order to strengthen the national ICT policy in the country, people, civil society groups and the government need to use best practices in order to leap-frog in the arena of ICT.
According to him, the use of intellectual property usage and principles plays a big role in achieving this. Engineer Kowero is in the view of the fact that the nation must adhere to the ICT policy as stipulated to ensure an effective implementation of the national development goals. In analyzing Tanzania’s ICT status since the policy was instituted, ICT educators in the country maintains that, “the government has not made concerted efforts to give a push to the spread of ICT countrywide as a key vehicle towards achievement of the country’s development vision 2025.
For the case of access to infrastructure, according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU), statistics on Tanzania shows that its Tele-density is still low with a number of fixed lines currently standing at 6 telephone lines per 1,000 people. That’s 0.06 percent.
The number of mobile phone subscribers currently stands at 81 per 10,000 inhabitants. In contrast, the city of Dar es Salaam which has the leading subscription base in the country, has 5 lines and 10 mobile phone subscribers per 100people. Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has registered over 10 companies to provide public data communication services including internet bandwidth. These data operators have isolated initiatives of connecting their points of presence to the global internet backbone. The lack of national Internet Exchange Point (IXP) also means that much of Tanzania’s local traffic is routed via international routes. This is inappropriate use of a scarce and expensive resource that increases the cost of local internet access for users.
There are presently about 23 licensed ISPs in Tanzanian providing between 10,000 & 15,000 dial-up accounts in the country with many more users via company and government’s Local Area Networks ( LANS) and internet cafes. Available e-readiness studies suggest that there is a large unsatisfied demand in the country for internet access.
Tanzania has a small emerging skilled capacity to support the ICT industry in terms of hardware and software. The IT industry is small although there are a surprisingly diverse range of goods and services offered, statistics shows that only 52 companies deals with computer hardware, software and maintenance services in the country.
Few local companies are developing computer application packages and most of the software used by Banks, multi-nationals, large private sector companies, schools, Universities and in government’s ministries, Agencies and imported at considerable cost. In education, very few primary & secondary schools as well as teacher’s training colleges in the country have access to computer laboratories even fewer of these facilities are linked to the internet.
There is an official secondary school computer studies syllabus for forms one to four. However, only very few students have taken these courses so far. Lack of a program for training teachers of computer studies has been identified as a reason for slow take up of computer studies in both primary and secondary schools..
The state of education in the country is inequitable and of generally poor quality. Educational opportunity is highly stratified, decent schooling is increasingly the preserve of a small elite, and currently practices reinforce and intensify existing disparities in the country.
Though the ICT has helped the education sector access in Tanzania, still many more educational institutions in the country have computer laboratories and other multi-media facilities. These facilities are more in private schools and even fewer of these facilities are linked to internet.
At Universities and other institutions of higher learning, few computers are available for use by students and staff. Moreover, they are not enough to meet the demand. There is a shortage of well-qualified professionals of ICT in Tanzania, likewise, there is no well established ICT professional profiles, and a standardized process of evaluation or certification of the different courses offered by various training centers is lacking. Many ICT users in Tanzania access the internet cafes, in view of this situation, there is therefore a need to reduce barriers in deploying ICT and in developing the required human capital for sustainable participation of Tanzanian information society in the ICT industry.