Informatics Policies Studies In Africa: Tanzania


Pan African Development Information Systems







Over the past 25 years, the pace of change in Information Technology has dramatically accelerated. As a result, there has been a parallel increase in the rate at which advanced economies are becoming Information intensive. The new technology is INFORMATICS. Informatics is a unified and increasingly powerful technological paradigm for Information acquisition, processing, storage, retrieval and transmission.

Informatics technology includes semiconductor chips, computer hardware and software, and communications systems [22]. It is based on the scientific insight that all information, whether text, voice, image, can be translated into digital language of zeros and ones, and then handled in a common electric environment.


The improvements in the chip performance and computer architecture have dramatically increased information processing power. These developments have engineered the need for innovation in a number of skills and technologies including:

1.2.1 Lithography and wafer fabrication for the chip manufacture.

1.2.2 packaged and customized software;

1.2.3 peripherals for data-entry, printing, storage, systems interface, and computer security;

1.2.4 Visual display units, graphics boards and multimedia devices; and

1.2.5 data communications and network equipment.

All these industries form the Informatics sector. They thrive off each other's innovations; there is a high volume of inter- and intra-trade and vertical integration. This sector thrives on a high rate of inter-firm learning, generating geographic clusters of firms that both compete and corporate.


Technological change always poses social and economic risks, and Informatics is no exception. A number of studies provide compelling evidence that unless properly managed, investments in Informatics may be both unproductive and unprofitable. Effective use of Informatics technology requires an integration of technical know-how with detailed business understanding. Government efforts are required to deal with systematic problems of requirements planning, procurement and broader Informatics missions and objectives including quantifiable targets.This certainly requires an institutional framework with centralised functions that: a) maintains initiative and implementation responsibility at agency level; b) strengthens coordination for those aspects of Informatics use on which there are high economic returns. Such centralised functions would include:

1.3.1 oversight procurement to ensure consistent practice on requirements planning, and design of tender specifications for hardware, software and communications systems;

1.3.2 publication of standardized tender documents for contracts of Informatics equipment and services;

1.3.3 development of standards for computing and communications, together with procedures for conformance testing;

1.3.4 Standardization of government occupational streams for informatics personnel; and information supply on personnel requirements as feedback for training institutions;

1.3.5 Consultants recruitment and securing a database for experts and making them available;

1.3.6 development of standards to disseminate best government practice inter alia on computer budgeting, computer security, software development, and office technology management;

1.3.7 perform a technology watch function for the government (with findings disseminated to the private sector);

1.3.8 introduction of standards for the government data management, and dissemination;

1.3.9 Link with big manufacturers to create a depository of equipment such as computer houses analogous to vehicle warehouses thereby reducing the barrier, monopoly and fears; regulate prices; encourage users and popularise the Informatics technology.

Such an agency should be a facilitator of best practice and not only a regulator.

There are also the aspects of communications and networking, total quality management, and human capital constraints in computer use. Problems appear in these aspects both in the public and private sector. Progress on these issues require a multiplying effect policy initiative and collection action. In other countries, Governments have recognized the benefits of a coordinated Policy response to Informatics and have introduced explicit policies and corresponding Institutional frameworks. Examples are Japan, Britain, Korea, Mauritius, Brazil, India [11], [24].

Central governments play crucial roles in the development of Information Systems. the way to motivate and guide the effective use of Informatics is to formulate a National Policy for Informatics.


As Informatics become increasingly central to the government function, in Tanzania there will be substantial benefits from dealing with broader Informatics missions and objectives, requirements planning and procurement.

There are several justification for having an Informatics Policy, and among others include the following:-

1.4.1 to solve coordination problems in Informatics such as development or importation of systems in a haphazard manner, without regard for nation-wide concerns and priorities;

1.4.2 create a critical mass of expertise in the public sector;

1.4.3 raise general awareness about the social and economic consequences of Informatics;

1.4.4 increase the efficiency of government computerization; and

1.4.5 Launch specific projects that cut across agency lines in the fields of infrastructure development, standardization, Human capital formation, and technology support for the private sector

In the absence of an explicit national Informatics Policy the country may continue to lag behind the leaders and probably fall further behind those countries that have targeted Informatics as a strategic sector for overall social and economic performance, and Tanzania is by all means of no exception [24]. This report is a survey on the Instruments of National Informatics Policy in Tanzania. Current efforts on Informatics Policy development are also presented.


The terms of reference for the Correspondent are as per conclusions in the Consultative Meeting on Informatics Policies Studies in Africa held at Addis Ababa on 24-25th August 1993. They are stated hereunder as follows:

2.1 To survey the instruments of national informatics policy which have been implemented in Tanzania.

2.2 To obtain empirical data on the objectives of these national informatics policy instruments and determine the extent to which they have achieved their objectives, and reasons for success or failure to do so.



During the preliminary survey a lot of documents on Informatics and its policy related issues in Tanzania were collected and analyzed. These documents were grouped into two categories, namely Technological issues and Policy issues documents. Most of these documents were either presented in seminars, workshops proceedings, or research carried out in Tanzania and Africa on Informatics trends and policy issues.


The most recent documentation on Technological issues is "The Survey on Information Technology in Tanzania" by Sam Baker [14], a British Volunteer at the Cooperative College Moshi, Tanzania. He spent 110 mandays (Nov 1992 - Nov 1993) surveying IT trends in Tanzania by interviewing and visiting Civil Servants at the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education; 11 main suppliers; 12 donor agencies; 30 users. He sent questionnaires to 870 users with 23% completion rate and to 75 suppliers of computer goods and services. The data is held in a Database with 1,100 records. So far this is the most detailed and current survey on IT in Tanzania. The data collected on Hardware, Software, Human Resources Issues, Systems Development is of recent- mid 1993. The document includes a Suppliers of goods and services directory and a user directory. The document was first released at the first Tanzania's AITEC - Tanzania Computer & Communications Exhibition [20], held at Kilimanjaro Hotel, Dar_es_Salaam on 25-27 November 1993. It was sold at the price of Tshs.10,000/ ( Ten Thousands) or $20. The findings and analysis in this document has been used extensively in this study.

A similar survey on computers was carried in 1986 by Suzanne Grant-Lewis & Professor Mohammed S. Sheya [15]. This was an inventory study compiled from five sources: interviews and visits to 125 sites; files of the Adhoc Computers Advisory Committee; and surveys conducted by the University of Dar_es_Salaam Computer Centre and Faculty of Electrical Engineering.

3.1.2 Informatics Policy Issues:

The importance and necessity of formulating a National Informatics Policy started in 1974 when the computers were banned. Due to the problems on computer use at that time the government appointed two independent teams to study the effectiveness of informatics in the country [1], [2]. The first study team comprised of consultants from the National Institute for Productivity and The International Labour Organization -ILO, the latter being the sponsor also. The second study team called the Government Computer Task Force comprised of computer staff from the Government Computer Services Centre. Among the recommendations from the two teams were the formulation of a National Policy and National Training Programme for Computer Technology, and the formation of the Informatics secretariat to foresee all matters related to Informatics in the country. Unfortunately the policy issue was not implemented by the government. But the Adhoc Computer Advisory Committee was formed which was a government control mechanism for the importation of computers after the ban.

In 1987 the formulation of National Informatics Policy in Tanzania gained a broad awareness in the government. Some useful documentation include the seminar papers and proceedings of the Seminar on the Contribution of Informatics to Economic Development held at Arusha International Conference Centre on 10-12th, August 1987 [3], [4]. This seminar was organized jointly by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Planning, University of Dar_es_Salaam, IBI and UNESCO. It was attended by high level Government and parastatal organizations officials including persons from international organizations. Among other deliberations the seminar expressed the urgent need for formulating an explicit National Informatics Policy in Tanzania. Again there was no direct follow up.

Other useful documentations on policy issues are the UNDP Projects documents prepared in 1991 by Dr. Zhou [5], [7], an expert in IT, to improve the level of Informatics in the government particulary the Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance.

Study and draft papers on policy were also obtained from the Bank of Tanzania, Commission of Science and Technology, UNDP, individuals and the library. The list of references is herewith attached.


The most current study documentation on Informatics Policy is on A National Policy for Information Systems [9]. This work has been initiated by the government under the Planning Commission as recognition of the importance of Informatics and its policy issues and as response to the above mentioned initiatives. In October 1991, The Planning Commission appointed a joint project team of consultants, hereinafter called "The Project Team" from Coopers & Lybrand Associates and the government to assist in: reviewing the current Information Systems (IS) issues within Tanzania, and in documenting terms of reference for priority IS projects.

The team focused on National Policy issues for Information Systems, Information Systems Education and Training, and Information Systems Strategy within the government. The overall purpose is to build the foundation for a National Policy for Information Systems in Tanzania. The Team carried intensive desk research, interviews to both public and private sector senior officials. The team also conducted workshops to government personnel to try to obtain agreement on their proposed terms of reference for subsequent IS projects. These projects as stated in their Final Report revised version, dated 12th May, 1992 are the Information Systems Vision, Policy Making body, Standards, Industry policy and Strategy. The main objectives of this programme are:

3.2.1 developing a vision statement for the future National Policy on IS;

3.2.2 developing of a necessary policy making body;its objectives, role, responsibilities and processes;

3.2.3 specification of the desired IS standards covering human capital, technical standards and software;

3.2.4 defining the industry policy for IS supply and demand; and

3.2.5 defining an IS strategy for the government.

In collaboration with UNDP the government has attached importance to this programme and has initiated a Project Number URT/92/.. entitled " National Policy and Strategy for Information Systems " prepared on 15th June, 1992 by the UNDP Consultant Dr Hongren Zhou [6]. The overall programme is estimated to take 18 months at the cost of US$289,800 UNDP input. This project aims at building a framework of National Policy and Strategy for Information Systems. The expected output will be a draft document on National Policy for Informatics as per objectives above. The draft policy document will address the following issues:Informatics goals, priorities, personnel, methodology, standards, industrial policy, institutional framework and development strategies in the government.


In the presence of these documentations the preliminary survey established that:

3.3.1 Tanzania does not have a National Informatics Policy. However, there exists a National Science and Technology Policy for Tanzania which does not cover Informatics in its sectoral objectives [17,22].

3.3.2 Procurement of Informatics technologies into the country were prohibited since 1974. The ban was lifted in 1991 for microcomputers and in 1993 for all computing resources. However computers continued to enter into the country despite the ban.

3.3.3 The control mechanism was the Adhoc Computer Advisory Committee under the then Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Planning.

3.3.4 At present Tanzania, under UNDP assistance, is in the process of developing an integrated National Informatics Policy.


The methodology is based on the fact that there are presently no explicit formal national strategies and policies for Informatics in Tanzania, but rather there was a Government Import Control Order prohibiting the importation of computers into the country. The control mechanism being the Adhoc Computer Advisory Committee under the Ministry of Finance. However, despite this ban Tanzania has witnessed a considerable inflow of computers of different brands as studies mentioned above indicate.

4.1 Objectives:

This study was therefore planed with the following objectives; to determine:

4.1.1 The national efforts to deal with systematic problems of requirements planning, procurement and broader Informatics missions and Objectives including quantifiable targets;

4.1.2 An institutional framework with centralised functions that

a) maintains initiative and implementation responsibility at agency level;

b) strengthens coordination for those aspects of Informatics Use on which there are high economic returns.

4.1.3 Human Capital Policy including Education and Training systems that can deliver a broadly computer literate workforce;

4.1.4 The supply, use and standards of Informatics technologies in the country;

4.1.5 The Incentive Framework on Informatics in the country.


With the access to the most recent survey on Informatics Technology and policy related issues in Tanzania, it was felt that data be collected on policy issues. The aim being to determine the effectiveness of the Government Order on Importation of Informatics technologies. The most conevnient approach would be to carry out interviews with relevant persons in the public sector and some in the private sector including training institutions, mostly on the Informatics policy issues without duplicating the recent efforts such as those undertaken by Sam Baker [14], The Planning Commission [9], Dr Zhou [6] etc.

I also attended the AITEC-93 Tanzania Computer and Communications Exhibition held in Dar_es_Salaam on 25-27 Nov, 1993 and the Information Policy workshop held in December organized by the Institute for Information Technology. These enriched my Informatics knowledge necessary for this study. I had an opportunity to meet Informatics Peofessionals and suppliers to discuss the Policy issues in a casual and peaceful atmosphere.


This study took approximately four months November 1993 to February 1994. Report writing, editing and proof reading took one month. Questionnaires would have taken six months at least.

4.4 SCOPE:

The target areas and key persons for interviews were:

4.4.1 Ministry of Finance: particularly the Director of Government Computing Services Centre.

4.4.2 The Planning Commission: The Electronic Data Processing Staff

4.4.3 The Commission for Science and Technology: The Directors of Information Systems and Technology Transfer.

4.4.4 The University of Dar_es_Salaam: The Director of University Computer Centre ( both former and current director).

4.4.5 Ministry of Works, Communications and Transport: Users.

4.4.6 Former Director of Government Computer Services Centre.

4.4.7 Tanzania Railways Authority: Manager of Computer Services.

4.4.8 The Bank of Tanzania: The Manager of Computer Services.

4.4.9 The Tanzania Investment Bank- TIB: Computer personnel.


The main constraints to this study were: Communication systems- telephone and fax lines, security and secrecy of government documents, location and retrieval of documents. All the data requirements have necessitated a trip to Dar_es_Salaam and visits in person.



The first computer in Tanzania was an ICL ICT1500 imported in 1965 in the Treasury. Since then Computers continued to be imported into the country despite the government's ban in 1974 [2], [14], [15]. From the data collected in these studies, analysis indicates that by 1986 there were 470 micros, 4 suppliers and 34 brands of computers in the country. But by the second quarter alone of 1993, more than 570 microcomputers were imported and by then there were 99 brands of computers. By 1986 there were no Local Area Network Configurations. However by 1993 there were 10 LAN configurations. It is appropriate to point out that all computer hardware were imported. Other factors can be explained by the tables below:

1986 June 1993

Microcomputers imported 470 570

Computer Suppliers 4 35

Total computer brands 34 99

LAN Configuration imported -- 10

Market Share distribution:

Leading brand 26% 10%

Top 4 brands market share 57% 36%

Ownership of micros by individuals 11% 14%

Sales and import tax 50% 56%


The range of computerised functions is wide. Computerisation is back office functions, front office functions followed by more strategic systems. Recent studies show that there are very few examples of the latter and Management Information Systems. Word Perfect collects 60% of the users while ACCPAC a popular package collects only 4% of the users. Only 16% of the functions prepared were preceded by a feasibility study. However a vast of functions are implemented inhouse. 34% are split between Tanzanian and expatriate consultants.

The variety of software being used is ever increasing. The result is the proliferation of pirated software. Pirated software is also bought and sold in the same way as the licensed versions and somtimes sold with photocopied manuals, often without [14]. This trend will have an adverse effect on the indigenous software development and market in the future leave alone the ubiquitous problem of computer viruses. Despite the high incidence of computerised accounting, accounting packages are not popularly used. All accounting packages represent only 20% of all accounts functions with ACCPAC being the most popular with 4% of all users. Of all the software development tools and packages only Cobol had 35% of all systems using Cobol implemented prior to 1987. Others have no implementation record so far.


Recent studies reveal that there are no well documented methodology on Informatics planning, analysis and development [9], [14]. Neither are there any documented strategy. Furthermore only 16% of all functions seem to have been prepared through a feasibility studies and of this 34% was done by external consultants mostly expatriate. The general scenario is haphazard, relatively unplanned activity driven by technology rather than by user requirements. The main applications in the government are: Government accounts; payroll; pensions schemes; annual plan and development budget systems; development budget release systems; foreign trade statistics index systems; loan management; motor vehicle registry systems; aid management system; population and immuninization systems; Customs and sales tax systems; labour survey systems; Agricultural marketing, early warning, food security and monitoring systems. Unfortunately they are not integrated because they were not planned in an overall strategic framework.

Proposed integrated systems to be developed under the UNDP assistance include the: The Computer Aided Planning Mnagement System- CAPMIS; AID Management Information System- AMIS; Financial Management Information System- FMIS;


The current training institutions available are:

5.4.1 The University of Dar_es_Salaam:

The University of Dar_es_Salaam used to run a two year MSC degree programme in Computer Science. The programme was abandoned in 1983 due to shortage of manpower caused by brain exodus. However, in 1990/91 academic year the Senate approved three degree programmes to be hosted by the University's Computing Centre. These courses are:

a) BSc ( with Computer Science);

b) BSc Computer Science; and

c) Diploma in Computer Science.

Due to shortage of manpower, the University was able to launch only the BSc ( with Computer Science ) degree programme in 1991 with an intake of 25 students. The intake for 1992 was 25 students and 40 students in 1993. The first BSc ( with Computer Science ) graduates will be out in this academic year - 1993/94. This will raise the profile of the University in th industry.

Physical and human capital constraints are endemic at the University. Almost all departments suffer from the problems of (i) recruitment and retention of staff. (ii) supply and teaching materials, textbooks and facilities. However, it has been also offering Service courses in fundamentals of computing and microcomputing, programming languages, computer applications and management courses to students taking Bachelors and Masters degrees, university staff and others outside the community. The University also offers Consultancy services.

5.4.2 The Dar_es_Salaam Technical College.

The College incorporates Informatics Science particularly microcomputer engineering and hardware maintanance into their diploma students and full certificate technicians courses.

5.4.3 The Institute of Finance Management- IFM. Dar_es_Salaam.

This is a centre of Financial Management and other related fields. It incorporates Informatics courses like Systems Analysis and Design, Computer Applications and Management into their diploma courses in Accountancy and Banking. It also offers short management informatics programmes. It is currently establishing a modern computing facility to run postgraduate, diploma and certificate programmes in Informatics under the IDA credit.

5.4.4 Other Financial Learning institutions which incorporate Informatics programmes in their diploma or certificate courses include:

a) The Institute of Development Management- IDM, Morogoro.

b) The Cooperative College- CC, Moshi

c) The College of Business Education- CBE, Dar_es_Salaam

d) The Dar_es_Salaaam School of Accountancy.

The Informatics programmes incorporated include Systems Analysis and Design; Introduction to microcomputing, programming, computer acquisition; and computer applications. Common packages taught include word processing, dbase, lotus, graphics and some statistical analysis. They also carry out some Consultancy assignments.


There are currently three organizations offering diplomas in Computer Science:

a) The Institute for Information Technology- IIT, Dar_es_Salaam.

IIT is affiliated to both Pitman Examinations Institute (PEI) and the National Computing Centre both of the United Kingdom. It started offering diploma programme in 1990 with a 25 seater Novell Network equipped classroom. IIT also conducts short courses and offers Consultancy services.

b) The Institute of Management and Information Technology- IMIT.

IMIT is part of the Computers and Telecomms Systems group which are distributers of ICL computers in the country. This is affiliated to the IDPM- UK. It has a capacity of 90 students and has trained 200 diplomas since its inception.

c) International Communications Systems - ICS Ltd dealers in IBM products are new comers.

Short courses in Informatics are run by over 55 organizations, mainly vendors, on commercial basis. The basic courses are in introductory basis in common application packages and Microsoft Disk Operating System. Some do offer some basic courses in Network. These include the Info-Tech dealers in Siemens computers, and the NCR Ltd. The Standard, Regulation and Appropriateness of these training institutions is questionable because there is no policy with an institutional framework to coordinate.

5.4.6 The Eastern and Southern African Management Institute- ESAMI.

This is a regional management training centre. Esami conducts short courses, seminars and workshops. Informatics programmes are in the area of Systems Analysis and Design; Programming; Microcomputer based Database Systems and Distributed computing; Security and Information Systems Planning.



Word Processing 21%

Spread Sheet 20%

Introduction to Computers 18%

Operating System 15%

Database 12%

Others 16%


The urgency for computer literacy in Tanzania has now made the Institute of Curriculum Development of the Ministry of Education and Culture to recommend a syllabus for secondary schools. The Institute has already finished the development of the syllabus and the Ministry has issued a Government circular on the Introduction of computers subjects in secondary schools [23]. This is a challenge in the absence of National Informatics Policy.


The scarcity of fulltime education for the creation of Informatics professionals have caused a serious shortage of human capital. By 1991 there were hardly more than 200 qualified Informatics professionals with degrees.



The interviews carried out and the documentations studied earlier in this study has revealed that by what a policy means, Tanzania does not have a fully fledged integrated National Informatics Policy. On the contrary procurement of Informatics technologies into the country were PROHIBITED since 1974. However, the high rate of technological developments in the informatics sector; the opportunity to catch up with international practice and cooperation; competitive pressure in the market; donor driven budgets and economies have been enough to ensure that informatics technologies continued to be imported into Tanzania though in an uncoordinated manner. The control mechanism was the Ad-Hoc Computer Advisory Committee under the Ministry of Finance. The tendency was to control rather than promote the development of Informatics sector by means of rules and regulations governing the acquisition of Informatics equipment and software.


Perhaps for the purpose of this study, we divide the analysis of Informatics policy Instruments in Tanzania into two distinct time frames; namely The Free period, The Prohibited period.

6.2.1 THE FREE PERIOD- 1960 - 1974.

During this period computers were being imported freely by those few institutions which could afford the costs by then. There were no personal computers, and therefore only few public and private institutions could afford.

a) Informatics Policy Instruments:

The government had no Informatics policy and specific institutional framework for informatics requirements analysis and capacity planning, procurement and installation, Facilities management, and Human capital development. The Government Computer Services Department in the Ministry of Finance was responsible for all Informatics requirements in the public sector but no policy making role neither coordinating the use of informatics in the country.

b) HUMAN CAPITAL for informatics:

The Government relied heavily on the external computer expert who was on contractual terms for most of systems development, design, implementation and maintenance. The formal education system had not been able to respond to the need for a specialized informatics workforce.


There was virtually no industrial policy and standards governing the Information technologies, public information dissemination, manpower capabilities, and Education and Training. Everything was left entirely to user and the vendors.

The computers were aging and the technology changing rendering them obsolete. Consequently they couldn't function efficiently and cost effectively. The contract of the Expert expired by the end of 1972 thus creating a shortage in human capital. Consequently, there were no systems development efforts. The computer systems were not cost effective and couldn't deliver the expected outputs.

In 1972 there was a Government Decentralisation Policy. This policy shifted accountability to regional level. On this course information flow was adversely affected. The Government Accounting system including budgeting was affected especially on the design of codes. Each region/district and sector within the government came up with its own coding system. Variations in coding system has got a serious effect in information sharing and in the design of effective Information systems and in particular integrating the budget at national level.

These events together with others rendered most of the applications developed obsolete except the government payroll system and the Pension system. The government decided to go back to its manual systems something which disappointed the government. It felt that the country was not ready for computerisation.

One question was " Are Computers relevant and necessary at all in Tanzania?". Finally it decided to ban all computers into the country.

6.2.2 THE PROHIBITED PERIOD. 1974 - 1991.

In 14th June, 1974 the Government took an unusual step by issuing a Government Order banning the importation into the country of all television sets and computers. The order was issued as a Government Notice No.142 in the Tanzania Government Gazette, 1974.

a) Informatics Policy.

As mentioned earlier in this report, Tanzania does not have an explicit National Informatics Policy as such. On the contrary there was a Government Imports Control Ordinance absolutely prohibiting the importation of all Informatics Technologies into the country.

b) Instruments:

After the Government's Import Control Ordinance a provision was made to empower the Minister of Finance to permit Informatics Technologies judged to be in public interest at large. This modification resulted into the formulation of The Guidelines for Evaluation of Computer Requests for Import of Computer Equipment.

c) Contents:

Essentially the guidelines stated that:

i) To justify an inhouse mainframe installation, the applicant must have an extensive experience with computer applications, and have a comprehensive technical manpower base, supported by a management team knowledgeable in the application of computer technology.

ii) To justify an inhouse minicomputer, the applicant must have had extensive experience on electrical/electronic accounting machines and a thorough understanding of computer technology.

iii) Any application will only be considered if available local capacity cannot satisfy the applicant's available resources on time-hire basis, in order to conserve resources.

Some interviewees said that there was no defined process of setting up a policy neither any formal instructions for the committee to carry out the role of policy making and Informatics coordination countrywide.

d) Summary of mainframe procurement process;

i) A proposal is prepared and submitted to management of the user organization;

ii) Upon acceptance, a management paper is prepared and submitted to the board of directors (or parliament in case of the government) for approval;

iii) upon approval tenders are invited from vendors;

iv) Tenders are then evaluated by respective ad-hoc committees.

v) Recommendations are forwarded to management (or Central tender Board in the case of government) for official offer of the tender and finally

vi) Financing and installation.

The microcomputers were not included in this process, most of them were donations. They were also considered small compared to mainframes.

e) The Import Policy and Duty structure:

Together with Control Ordinance were the import procedures:

i) To acquire a computer the institution must obtain bids from several vendors. Direct purchase terms are encouraged in preference to monthly hire terms.

ii) An application must be made to the Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Planning. The Application must state clearly the need to acquire a computer, the tender process and choice criteria. After obtaining the permit then the normal import procedure through the Central Bank and customs is followed. The Customs clearance has two type of levies; the Customs Duty ( 25% of CIF value) and Sales Tax (25% of landed value). However the government was exempted from all these levies.

f) Implementing Agency:

The Ministry of Finance was responsible for carrying out all administrative procedures related to Informatics requirements in Tanzania. Historically, the first government computer imported in 1965 was in the Ministry of Finance under the O & M unit which was latter on in 1967 transformed into a Computer Services Department headed by the Director. This has remained until today. Throughout the prohibited period the Ministry has been concentrating on the controlling side by imposing restrictive rules such as customs duty and import rules just to cab the entry of informatics equipment like mainframes and networks hardware in the country. Essentially it has been on the policeman side rather than on the promotion side. Therefore the technology remained unpopular in most public sectors of the economy except for donor funded projetcs.

g) Executing Body.

The Control Mechanism has been the AD-HOC COMPUTER ADVISORY COMMITTEE formed in 1974 under the then Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Planning. This was an advisory body and its main functions were limited to basically consider all applications for Informatics equipment and advice the Minister of Finance on whether or not an applicant justifies a computer use and hence may or may not be granted a permit. In some cases the Minister could even overrule the recommendations from the Committee with no clarification on various queries put up by the committee. This could render the committee ineffective and less influential towards Informatics development. Computers continued to be imported under temporary permits even if the committee had not met for one or two years. Donors used to import directly when sourcing their projects. According to the IT Survey by Sam Baker [12], for the year to June 1993 37% of all imported computers were funded by donors. Consequently the Committee was short-lived as it was taken by the Computer avalanche, despite the government ban.

The Committee was composed of ten members appointed by the Minister of Finance drawn from local computer centres/users including the Bank of Tanzania, University of Dar_Es_Salaam, Tanzania Electric Supply Company ( Tanesco), National Bank of Commerce (NBC), and the Treasury itself.


A number of observations on policy issues could be made in this study.

6.3.1 INFORMATICS VISION: There are currently no vision, broad objectives, and plans directing the development of Informatics in the country.

6.3.2 STANDARDS: There are no Informatics Policy on Standards regarding Technology- Hardware and Communications Network technology, Software, Human Resources, Public sector databases and public information dissemination, and Education and Training.


There is no government policy to maintain an open market for computer hardware, and to create competitive market conditions. The result is a room for monopoly for few manufacturers in the mainframe. The procurement process didn't support migration towards any particular set of technical standards. Across the public sector computers are using different operating system software, software applications, and data standards. This situation has compounded the problem of inter -agency coordination and Information sharing. A particular case is the Treasury where the Government payroll is in the ICL ME29 and the AID Management System is in the Unisys PCs, The Customs and Duty applications are run in the IBM personal computers.


The departments of the Ministry of Finance themselves have been endeavouring to computerise their business systems on their own. This scattering tendency results into unharmonized systems which are difficult to integrate the entire Finance Management Information System. There are no mechanisms and arrangements to keep pace with demand of standards in Software development. User demand for "Open Systems" has been driving the computer market for the past few years. In essence, Open Systems mean the ability to:

(a) run an application on a wide range of different hardware environments without rewriting;

(b) link together different types (generations) of computers in a way most convenient to the user;

(c) communicate between applications running on different environments across a network system.

Open Systems provide greater consumer choice and reduce barriers to entry in the hardware and software markets by freeing users from technological dependence on large computer manufacturers. As yet Tanzania has not developed (or adopted) standards for "Open Systems" nor has public procurement of Informatics technologies used as an Instrument to support user migration from proprietary to Open Standards. There are no specific measures within a coherent policy framework to accelerate the development of software industry. Specifically there are no Government long- term commitment to:

i) Training and Education in Software Engineering

ii) software assurance

iii) Software Standards development

iv) introduction and promotion of international software houses

v) to provide and enforce explicit legal protection of privacy and intellectual property of software assets.


There is no industrial policy regarding the supply and use of Informatics Technologies in the country.


There is no clearly defined fiscal incentive package for supply and demand. Even when the ban was lifted in June 1993, the announcement was followed by an increase in duty and sales tax on computers from 50% to 56%. Most users and vendors praised the government's move to open the doors to modern technology but were very worried over the increase in duty and sales tax on computers announced in the budget session, [21]. They felt that the increase were "far too high for the common man". The revenue from duty on computers is insignificant compared to the negative impact on Informatics. That is the benefits the government can loose have greater impact to the country's economy than the revenue on duty and sales tax on computers. Many countries which have encouraged or promoted Informatics by making it easier for institutions and individuals to have access have achieved tremendous social, economical and technological developments.


There is no clearly stated Informatics Strategy in the Government to ensure effective utilization of public sector Informatics systems. Effective use of the Informatics requires a set of complementary investments in the process of:

a) Defining Systems Requirements;

b) Information Flow reengineering;

c) System and Software Design;

d) Implementation and Unit testing;

e) End-User Training;

f) Staffing, Operations and Maintenance.

The rules governing the successful Informatics implementation apply just as much in the public as in the private sector. The first step is Analysis of the public sector agency mission; then design of supportive Informatics Strategy that includes complementary organizational restructuring. The main systems in the government have not been planned within the overall strategic framework.


Tanzania faces a severe deficit in the area of Human capital in Informatics. There are shortages in the supply of Informatics Personnel, especially in the more specialized fields of Systems Analysis, Capacity Requirements planning, Network Planning, Design, Selection and Installation. These problems are more felt in the public sector where salary and fringe benefits for specialists make it hard to retain talented Informatics staff. There has been a heavy reliance on donors expertise and vendors personnel. Compared to the developed countries in terms of Human Capital [10], [14], [18], Tanzania falls behind in the:-

a) diffusion of computer literacy throughout the workforce;

b) supply of specialised Informatics Professionals - people to run the mainframes, write software, and design Information Network Systems for large organizations;

c) education and training systems that can deliver a broadly computer literate workforce; Informatics Specialists in line with the market and skills upgrading and retraining opportunities in the face of rapid changing set of technologies.

6.3.9 The general agreement by those in the indusry so far, is that the years between 1974 and 1991 did much harm to business and government efficiency, with Tanzania struggling to do business with developed world already using informatics on a widespread basis.


With the absence of formal explicit Policy and an Institutional Framework, Tanzania has not been able to take the full advantages of the fast growing informatics technologies. This situation has several consequences:

6.4.1 the government has not yet exploited the externalities from its procurement activities for market;

6.4.2 Tanzania now suffers from the problems of:-

a) National computer champion and monopoly which used to distort public procurement decisions and create a political lobby in favour of prices and import restrictions;

b) Technological Obsolescence. Several sectors, including the Ministry of Finance itself, have been locked into outdated systems and cannot be well-positioned to the computer productivity nose front. Users find it difficult to leapfrog mainframe based computer architecture to distributed networks of personal computers using the latest software development tools such as 4GL, CASE's, SQL and Relational Database Systems. The networks offer superior performance in many applications because of their ease-of-use, data sharing functionality, and advanced communications facilities. The 4GL and CASE tools increase the development productivity almost ten times.

c) Expensive equipment, High Maintenance and Software Development Costs. Staying away from productivity frontier implies incurring a lot of expenses maintaining the old equipment, systems and rewriting software.

d) Many vendors with virtually no rework centres. Any equipment imported with faulty system boards is likely to be send back to abroad, repaired and then brought back doubling the cost.

6.4.3 despite rapid growth in the microcomputer market, both public and private informatics technologies users appear to be lagging behind latest techniques for network applications such as LANS and WANS. Almost all the LAN owners are locally international organizations such as NORAD, UNICEF, SIDA, and USAID [18]. The University of Dar_es_Salaam is the only training institution with a LAN. The Bank of Tanzania, CRDB and National Bank of Commerce are still installing and testing their LANS.

6.4.4 there has been very limited introduction of the formal and documented computer management techniques that are central to quality management;

6.4.5 There is no innovative communications sector that creates competitive advantage for the business sector through unique configuration of network resources;

6.4.6 There is no legal framework that balances public and private interests as they evolve in the economy.

6.4.7 Up to the present times of advanced developments in Informatics industry, Tanzania does not have any Software houses and computer Services industries that can customize Informatics to Local markets conditions. There is a heavy reliance on vendors;



The lack of competitive benchmark makes it hard to access agency performance or to measure the improvements that Informatics may have facilitated. The situation created by the BAN, as some people who were interviewed could put it, is "Very Destructive". The reasons given were mainly on the users point of view- that they are in a bad situation in terms of current technological developments and computerisation efforts. They are some how locked up. Other reasons given include the uncoordinated Training, Education Systems and Human capital developments. We may therefore conclude that:

7.1.1 The Government Imports Control Ordinance on informatics in Tanzania were Not designed specifically to promote and coordinate the Informatics development, but rather to CONTROL. The instruments therein proved very restrictive, counterproductive with no multiplying effect.

7.1.2 Since there was no defined process of setting up a policy neither any formal instructions for the committee to carry out the role of policy making, there is not much we can expect in terms of policy instruments to be measured against laid down objectives and strategies. Instead things were done on adhoc basis sometimes on temporary permits or on the discretion of the Minister of Finance himself.

7.1.3 The primary objective of CONTROLLING the importation of Informatics technologies was not achieved, instead a new situation was created. This situation is characterised by the uncoordinated and uncontrolled importation of Informatics technologies in the country with no clear STANDARDS . As other studies have revealed, the importation of informatics technologies was growing almost exponentially. Therefore the control instruments were ineffective.

7.1.4 The fact that the coordination mechanism was purely advisory with limited functions and no follow up procedures, means that it was merely a symbol with no executing powers and full mandate to formulate policies and strategies for Informatics development as regards to para 1.3 in this report.


[1] Ndamagi, C.: "Practitioner's point of view on national Informatics Policies in Tanzania." National Information and Informatics Policies in Africa: Report and Proceedings of a Regional Seminar: Addis Ababa 28th Nov- 1st Dec 1988 pg 265-286.

[2] Ndamagi, C.: "Information Technology in the Government of Tanzania". Commonwealth Secretariat, London, December 1988.

[3] Sheya, M.S. & Koda, G.R.: "The State of Informatics in Tanzania: Policy Issues and Strategies". Proceedings of the Seminar in the Contribution of Informatics to Economic Developments, Arusha- Tanzania, 1987.

[4] The Editorial Committee: "Seminar on the Contribution of Informatics to Economic Developments", Arusha-Tanzania, 1987: OFFICIAL REPORT.

[5] Dr Zhou, H.: "Report on the 3rd Mission to United Republic of Tanzania". UNDP. 16th June, 1992.

[6] Dr Zhou, H.: "National Policy and Strategy for Information Systems". UNDP 15th June, 1992.

[7] Dr Zhou, H.: "Report of a Mission to United Republic of Tanzania". UNDP 8th April, 1991.

[8] Mlolwa, N. & Sawe, D.: "Policy Maker's View and Planner's views on Information/ Informatics Policy in Tanzania". paper presented at the Regional Seminar on National Information and Informatics Policies in Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1988.

[9] The Planning Commission: "Terms of Reference for Information Systems Studies". Final Report, Revised Version 12th May 1992.

[10] Sheya, M.S.: "Science and Technology in the Development of Tanzania". February, 1992.

[11] Dr Zwangoban, E.: "Review of Literature on Informatics Policy in selected countries South of Sahara". A paper presented at the Regional Seminar on National Information and Informatics Policies in Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1988.

[12] PADIS/IDRC: "Issues Pertaining to National Information Policies in Africa". Regional Seminar on National Information and Informatics Policies in Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1988.

[13] IDRC Publication: "Rationale and Need for Information and Informatics Policies", 1988, Pg 18-56.

[14] Commission for Science and Technology: "The Survey for Information Technology in Tanzania". by Sam Baker, 1993.

[15] Grant Lewis, S. & Sheya, M.S: " Survey of Computers in Tanzania, 1986".

[16] "Information Technology Policies and Application in the Government": An Overview of African Experiences: Commonwealth Secretariat, London, December, 1988.

[17] "The National Science and Technology Policy for Tanzania": Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs, June 1985.

[18] Mufuruki, A.A.: "Computer Networks and Information Development Trends in Tanzania". Paper presented at the AITEC Tanzania 1993 Dar_es_Salaam 25-27th November, 1993.

[19] "The First BSc (with Computer Science) Graduates out in 1994". AITEC'93. An article in the Daily News, Friday November 26th , 1993.

[20] "Rapidly Catching Up". Computers & Communications in Africa Vol. 7, No.6, November/December, 1993 Pg 28 -29.

[21] "Government encourages Computerisation". Computers & Communications in Africa, Vol.7 No.6, November/December, Pg 30-31.

[22] " National Science and Technology Policy"- Draft. Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education", 1993.

[23] "Introduction of Computer Subjects in Secondary Schools". Government Order No.2 of 10th May, 1993, Ministry of Education, Tanzania.

[24] Rana K. Singh & Amar P. Singh: "Trends in Informatics Related Service Industries in selected Developed and Developing Countries", UNIDO Technology Trends Series: No.16. July, 1992.

[25] Atul Wad: "The Potential Role of Software in Enhancing the Competitiveness of Developing Country Firms", UNIDO, August, 1992.


9.1 Prof. M.S. Sheya Commission for Science and Technology

9.2 Mr T. E. Mlaki Commission for Science and Technology

9.3 Dr S.C. Kitinya University of Dar_es_Salaam

9.4 Dr B. Mutagahywa University of Dar_es_Salaam

9.5 Mr G. Koda University of Dar_es_Salaam

9.6 Mr C. Ndamagi Tanzania Railways Authority

9.7 Mr F. Lungu United Nations Development Programme, Resident Office, Dar_es_Salaam

9.8 Mr D. Sawe Planning Commission

9.9 Mr P. Michael Ministry of Finance Computer Centre

9.10 Mr S. Baker Cooperative College, Moshi

9.11 Mr N. Newa Computer Corporation of Tanzania Ltd

9.12 Mr M.A. Tungaraza Ministry of Works, Transport, and Communications

9.13 Mr E.A. Makwaia Bank of Tanzania

9.14 Mr M. K. Salemwalla Institute for Information Technology

9.15 Mr W.L. Kiloga Tanzania Investment Bank

9.16 Mr A.A. Mufuruki Info- Tech Computers Ltd


This study could not be performed without the financial support of the International Development Centre IDRC through the ECA/PADIS, and the help and cooperation of the Tanzania Government people.

Special thanks to Mr Peter Browne formerly Senior Programme Officer- Informatics, IDRC, for having confidence on me, he planted into my mind this kind of research undertaking.

Thanks and acknowledgement to staff of the Ministry of External Affairs and International Cooperation, and The Planning Commission who worked tirelessly in a peaceful frame of mind and made my visit to various places transparency by their cordial introductory letter.

Particular thanks to ESAMI for allowing me to do the study.

I am indebted to all individuals listed in par. 9, who contributed to the work of this research. Heartfelt thanks to all of them.

Finally, special thanks to my wife, Martha, who was a tremendous source of encouragement and help at every stage of the project.

howard m. shila.

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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