Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA)

Speeches Shim

Zambia’s journey toward digital transformation has made important, foundational progress in recent years. Mobile connectivity coverage has expanded to reach more than 90 percent of the population. The cost of accessing the Internet is declining, becoming more affordable for many. Demand for digital services, especially digital financial services, has grown exponentially. Domestic e-commerce companies received a boost from COVID-19 restrictions as people turned to their phones to shop. The core infrastructure needed to drive the government’s digital transformation is in place, and more and more services for businesses and citizens are coming online. The tech startup ecosystem also has some important players in place to provide the infrastructure and support needed to drive digital innovation locally.

Still, Zambia faces many challenges to achieving comprehensive social and economic digital transformation that benefits all Zambians. Geographic and gender digital divides are deep and risk growing further. Reaching those without connectivity will require a focused commitment from both the public and private sectors, as will improving access to high-speed, high-quality broadband. Many key social facilities such as schools and healthcare providers need to be connected. Digital literacy and skills are weak across the population. Several laws at the heart of Zambia’s Internet governance were developed and rushed to adoption ahead of the 2021 elections without adequate stakeholder engagement, and numerous provisions create new powers for the government to control expression and assembly in online spaces. At the same time, those provisions intended to secure digital infrastructure and create needed data and cybersecurity have not yet been implemented.

Zambia’s newly assembled government, appointed in September 2021, has demonstrated its commitment to Zambia’s digital transformation with the creation of the Ministry of Technology and Science, charging that newly formed body with driving Zambia’s digital transformation. Digital transformation features as an important element in the 8th National Development Plan. A new ICT Policy and Digital Transformation National Strategy are slated for adoption in 2022. With the government’s commitment and engagement with the stakeholder community, these documents will help chart a path for Zambia’s digital transformation over the upcoming years.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched its Digital Strategy in April 2020 with the goal of supporting our partner countries through their digital transformations. The strategy charts an agency-wide vision for development and humanitarian assistance in the world’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. It aims to improve USAID development and humanitarian assistance outcomes through the responsible use of digital technology and strengthen the openness, inclusiveness, and security of partner country digital ecosystems. 

A critical product of the Digital Strategy is the Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA). The DECA informs the development, design, and implementation of USAID’s strategies, projects, and activities. It is a decision-making tool designed to help USAID Missions identify opportunities, maximize benefits, and manage the risk associated with digital technology. Its purpose is to support partner nations on the journey to self-reliance through a better understanding of their digital ecosystem and how it can be leveraged or strengthened through future programming.

Issuing Country 
Date 
Friday, September 16, 2022 - 4:00am

Last updated: September 26, 2022