The Zambia Open University (ZAOU), a distance learning university established with the support of the Zambian government, has recently signed a USD 650,000 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Southern Africa Telecentre Network (SATNET) and Zambia’s Library and Information Association to support the development of a digital platform to promote the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in rural areas of the country and boost agriculture and education sectors.
The project will last three years and will provide people in rural areas with diversified information accessible either by mobile phone and internet, explained ZAOU Vice Chancellor Mutale Musonda.
The digital platform will support and reduce the challenges faced in the agricultural sector via the communication and update of commodity prices which so far had been operated by a SMS-based service only to members of the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU).
According to Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the MoU continues the government efforts to digitalise the agriculture sector which in July 2015 received ICT equipment to modernize desktop computers, surveillance cameras and tablets for camp officers at the National Agricultural Information Services (NAIS) and the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) from the European Union Funded Performance Enhancement Programme (UN PEP) worth of EUR 8.9 million.
According to Zambia’s National Budget 2016, Zambia seeks its economic diversification from copper by focusing on the agriculture sector which currently represents 7.4% of the country’s total exports and is the second biggest contributor after copper representing 73% of the total according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).