Embrancing technology and digitisation will help the delivery of services in various social and economic sectors, President Hakainde Hichilema has said. The President also allayed fears that application of technology would lead to job losses.
Speaking when he officiated at the first-ever 2023 Digital Government Africa Summit in Chongwe yesterday, Mr Hichilema appealed to those holding public office in Africa to embrace technology and digitisation as that would make them successful because they would be able to deliver for the people they served in areas like health, education, agriculture and mining, among others.
He said leaders like himself acknowledged and valued the importance of digital transformation.
“Contrary to the perception that digitisation will lead to job losses, I argue the opposite. It is not true. There could be direct jobs that may be affected by technological changes, but when those technological changes deliver growth in the economy, I bet there will be more jobs created in other sectors of the economy,” he said.
The President said digitisation would allow extension of operating hours and would enable 24-hourseconomies in Africa.
Mr Hichilema said African countries would increase their treasury revenue and spur economic growth if they embraced digital technology in performance of functions in various sectors.
He observed that governments in Africa were not collecting enough revenue and one of the reasons was the existing manual processes that took too long to be concluded.
President Hichilema also said protracted manual processes were a recipe for corruption.
“Are we collecting enough treasury revenue today in our governments? Ministers seated here, ask yourselves that question. Don’t give me the answer, I know the answer. We are not collecting enough revenue.
“One of the reasons is that we have a lot of manual processes that take too long, number one. Because they take too long, number two, they promote what we call, Prime Minister (Tony Blair), here the desire, the temptation for ‘ka something’. For non- Zambians, an opportunity for corruption,” Mr Hichilema said.
He said through digitisation, transactions, including at borders, would be done quickly and with ease instead of queuing up and waiting for days or hours to be attended to.
President Hichilema said collecting more revenue would enable governments to channel resources to more needy areas to enhance economic growth.
“We will collect more revenue. We can then support the needy areas of growth in our economies. Doesn’t that make sense? Doesn’t that make us successful public sector workers? Doesn’t that allow us to now invest in areas which needed revenue but it was not there and we will create jobs in those areas?
“There is the issue. This will be possible because we are using technology unlike the manual processes. We will then reduce on wastage, we will reduce inefficiencies,” he said.
He cited one border post where, upon introduction of technology, the revenue had more than trebled within one year.
The President said there was also a need to remove physical roadblocks which slowed traffic flow and replace them with technology thereby reducing the cost of doing business.
Mr Blair said Mr Hichilema had shown amazing courage and commitment over many years in politics and had demonstrated the same traits even after ascending to Zambia’s presidency.