To accelerate the growth of the economy, the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been regarded as catalysts, national leaders have taken steps to appoint advisors or advisory committees who look into the current trends and seize opportunities.
They provide real-time and future strategic direction to leverage on the cutting edge technologies, resilience and secure platforms.
Recognising its significance, during the opening of Parliament on September 10, 2021, President Hakainde Hichilema described technology as the catalyst for economic growth.
Considering the emphasis, I think there is need for the presidential or State House IT and cyber security advisor. You may call the position any name that fits into the purpose. The article will begin with an extract with key pointers from the speech.
“Our commitment to technological advancement in our country is evidenced by the proposed formation of the ministry of technology and science.
This will allow policy development and implementation to spur development in the cross-cutting sector and be a catalyst for economic growth and transformation.
Most of our people are now enjoying the benefits of information and communication technology in their daily lives.
We will, therefore, support innovation and creativity, which offer home grown solutions across all sectors of the economy.
To support these and other innovations, we will provide relevant infrastructure to enhance connectivity and support investments in optic fibre and telecommunication facilities for enhanced service delivery.
We will also promote public private partnerships in the information and communication technology sector.
Further, we will work towards managing telecommunication costs and improving quality of services by creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurs.
In our endeavor to develop new technologies relevant for our country, government will facilitate investment in research and development.
We will also place a premium on science and technology to promote innovation and contribute to sustainable development.
We will increase investment in science, research and technology.Government will also encourage investments from the private sector in science, research and technology.Our commitment to technological advancement in our country is evidenced by the proposed formation of the ministry of technology and science.
This will allow policy development and implementation to spur development in the cross-cutting sector and be a catalyst for economic growth and transformation”.
As the ministry of technology and science is making its efforts to implement its strategic plans, I think with all it best efforts putting in place there is need for the presidential or State House ICT and Cyber Security Advisory who may play these roles and many others including Identifying Stakeholders, Identifying Desired Actions, Identifying Missing Structures and Processes, Identify and Leverage the development plans, Foster Stronger Cooperation Amongst Like-minded Nations, Advancing the Strategy’s Goals. I am aware there are many different bodies and agencies involved in policy planning and implementation such as Smart Zambia, Zambia Information and Communications Authority, National Technology Business Centre and many others.The article will focus on ICTs which is a very broad and complex subject. Technology is also a complex subject. However the area of interest is innovation in ICT and cybersecurity. I will limit this article just to fulfil certain objectives. The article is meant to share progressive idea and its approach is to support ICTs.
The State House ICT and Cyber Security Advisory can provide cohesion and direction to national efforts relating to strategic ICT resiliency and innovation.
The advisory can be responsible for setting national ICT, cyber security and innovation goals and creating, coordinating, and implementing government policies and activities in support of those goals.
The advisory can lead the development and implementation of an ICT solutions and Innovation Strategy to more effectively align the national security, critical infrastructure provider, and innovation communities. It will be the responsibility of coordinate among national security agencies and to foster a focused, regularized engagement with the broader stakeholder community.
The need is to coordinate the strategy and policy generating elements of State House relating to ICT solutions.
We must advance policies to ensure the nation is taking appropriate steps to achieve national ICT innovation and cybersecurity goals and utilising all available government levers to elicit the desired actions from the stakeholder groups, as and described in this report and ultimately delineated in the Strategy.
The nation need to advance policies or take certain actions through the appropriate government agencies in the interest of national security continuity of operations in response to identified threats, gaps, or problematic trends that may impact the actions of both the Government and non-government stakeholders domestically and internationally. The case of land management system.
It is important to have an advisor who can Convene and coordinate with non-government partners, especially leaders from the manufacturing and innovation communities, the critical sectors, and academia, utilizing existing processes already established by federal agencies and federal advisory committees. Currently the Minister of Technology and Science is doing well to identify the sectors. There is need to bring the private sector and the industry to actualise solutions.
One of the core responsibilities of the Senior Advisor will be to bring together a community of interest (COI) around advancing resiliency and fostering innovation.
The participation of stakeholders from across the COI is critical to the achievement of the resiliency and innovation goals outlined in the Strategy.
The COI can be thought of as drawing from and leveraging both the national security community, the innovation community and the critical infrastructure provider community (the end users of ICT). The COI encompass a wide range of individuals from the key stakeholder groups including the Government, the private sector, academia, and non-government organisations or standards bodies.
The US national security telecommunications advisory committeesuggests that the innovation community generally encompasses individuals and organisations from the private sector and academia that are involved in developing new technologies and bringing them to market. It is very possible to implement home grown solution when certain parameters are aligned to Government – Working with government personnel, industry representatives, and members of academia, the Government should Foster Research and Development and the commercialization of critical technologies by working with the private sector.Technology Creators and Providers – Create the right conditions for strong investment domestically and a level playing field globally, such as lowering taxes, promoting the construction of state-of-the-art facilities, and pursuing anti-dumping action in trade bodies (The president’s national security telecommunications advisory committee)
The minister is so far Identifying ways to help innovators and entrepreneurs of different solutions, relevant technologies overcome the gap innovators face in moving an idea from conception to market. The advisory can take more action on this party. The minister needs support from the private and public sector to identify challenges and provide solutions.
I keep on emphasizing that the advisory can work with stakeholders within the innovation community, so they are more aware of the economic benefits of building stronger security features into products and develop best practices and metrics to better incorporate security and resiliency as a best value consideration in contracting. At this moment we do not know the strategic plan for the minister. The objectives need to be clearly set so that the appointment of the team is not based on politic but in competences and qualifications.
The parts of the academic community that should be engaged include, but are not limited to: material science, systems engineering, computer science, business schools (academics at business schools who address supply chain issues and/or economic issues), and law.
Methodologies for increasing engagement with the various parts of the academic community could include: Bringing together public, private, and non-profit experts through academic workshops and simulations. Encouraging graduate work through fellowships.
Funding of internships by both the private sector and the Government.Encouraging higher education institutions to provide scholarships for students in the aforementioned areas of science, particularly for students from underserved communities. Creating international student exchange programs focused on bringing students from relevant allied countries to engage in learning and dialogue around the issue of ICT resiliency.
Conclusion and recommendation
It is important to identify sectors which are critical but facing challenges.
At the moment the Nation is facing with electricity challenges, lack of clean water in many parts of the country, late delivery of agriculture in puts, fewer manufacturing industries, and many more. The focus to find solutions to these are needed by applying technology and smart solutions.
The president and the minister have attached great importance to the ministry of technology and science. I think, him and his minister have realized how technology can contribute to support economic growth.
The advisor can help coordinating the agenda for implementation.
The position must be filled by experts through jobs advert and subjected to interview selection. There is great human capital in Zambia.
When it comes to technology it is continuous learning. Our nation has the infrastructure installed and configured by the Chines.
The Information and Communications Technology Association and others can take the lead to provider advisory to matters of ICT solutions.
However, having local grown solution is important at this stage wile upholding international or foreign collaborations. Source: the president’snational security telecommunicationsadvisory committee.
The author is a speaker, mentor, educator, trainer, professional & community leader, IT& cyber security Leader. For comments email: ICT Matters@kingston.co.zm; www.kingston.co.zm; WhatsApp +260 955 689 574