The young Tanzanian minces no words when he says he spends sleepless nights thinking of how to turn his country into a technological hub.
Jumanne Mtambalike, 35, is chief executive officer and co-founder of Sahara Ventures, a company founded in 2016 to build a stable innovation, technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Tanzania and Africa.
They have 15 permanent employees in innovation technology and entrepreneurship and more than 60 consultants.
In Mtambalike’s to-do list since he first nursed the idea while on a trip to Yunqi Cloud Town in Hangzhou, China, is the making of the first ever technological district along the New Bagamoyo Road in the commercial capital of Dar es Salaam.
He plans “to engage with the government through Kinondoni Municipal Council to promote this goal,” he told Xinhua in his office in a 15-storey building along the New Bagamoyo Road.
The technological infrastructure along New Bagamoyo Road makes it the perfect domicile candidate for a technological district.
The government has already placed investments along the road that further butter it to become a fully-fledged technological district. These include the headquarters of Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, the Universal Communications Service Access Fund, Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation and the University of Dar es Salaam’s College of ICT.
The state-run technological institutions along this road have been joined by the leading mobile phone companies.
“We are not only seeing innovations and data hubs relocating here but also banks, innovators and start-ups positioning it as a natural dwelling for a technology district,” said Mtambalike.
“For start-ups, innovators, young people working on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and internet of things, this is the place to find them.”
“A technology district has many benefits, including creating employment opportunities for young people and also pushing the country toward a digital economy. It is also a platform where innovations can emerge to solve some of the challenges facing our country today, in health, in education and in agriculture,” he said.
In May 2016, Mtambalike visited China for two weeks under the Migratory Bird Programme, a non-profit event hosted in Yunqi Cloud Town in Hangzhou, China. It was themed ‘Bringing the world’s youth together for science and technology’.
“My visit to China was an eye opener. I learned how the country is doing in promoting technological districts,” said Mtambalike, who graduated from Bangalore University in India in 2011.
He was also invited to the 2050 Vision Programme for an event on Cloud City in China and visited some of the smart cities in China. He also visited some of software and app developers as well as gadget producers.
China visit inspiring
“The visit to China was inspiring to me because I saw a vision of a Silicon Valley Dar es Salaam in practice,” said Mtambalike.
A fully-fledged technological district can have assembling plants for phones, computers and one even manufacture low-cost designs, he said, adding that “I see that this is possible through strategic partnership and collaboration in Tanzania.”
Mtambalike said China leads the world in the sheer number of new innovations and new technologies.
“Right now, Sahara Ventures has initiated a campaign called start-up schools where we encourage university students to start their own start-ups,” he said of a programme being implemented at the CoICT, the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in the northern city of Arusha and the University of Iringa.
“Our goal is to create as many start-up founder companies as possible to address the issue of unemployment in the country because we believe that if we can create job creators instead of job seekers then we can have massive impact in the country,” said Mtambalike.
“Sahara Ventures believes the best way to solve the problem is to build a sustainable business around it,” said Mtambalike.