According to DataReportal, there were 5.48 million internet users in Zambia and internet penetration stood at 29.4% as of January 2021. There is generally a low internet penetration in the country, but this is fast changing as the government and the private sector continue to put in efforts to increase and improve internet access across the country. In the two decades that Zambia has embraced technology, there has been tremendous progress in digital transformation and innovative initiatives. This progress, however, has taken place at a slow pace due to reasons such as the cost of internet connection, lack of investment in the sector and the lack of infrastructure.
There are a few digital innovations and tech hubs in Zambia, but similar initiatives are also helping to advance innovation and technology for startups and corporate organisations. BongoHive, DIGILOGIC Partner is Zambia’s first technology and innovation hub. We work with the startup ecosystem by offering a range of programmes, workshops and events that support the start-up journey from idea to the investment stage. BongoHive also expands into a consulting arm; BongoHive Consult. BongoHive Consult brings a combination of technology, training and innovation services to help organisations solve problems and unlock their growth potential through the provision of research services, and the development of tech-based products and services. Other hubs in Zambia that help to advance innovation and technology in the country are Jacaranda Hub and Anakazi Centre. Jacaranda Hub - This is a non-profit organisation and ecosystem builder that develops young entrepreneurs through the provision of collective services, infrastructure, and specialised tools and equipment. They also utilise available local and global resources to upgrade skills through training programs that can improve people’s lives, businesses and public services. Anakazi Centre - Anakazi Center facilitates the economic and social empowerment of women by developing business development support networks, increasing knowledge of global issues, advocating for human rights, and supporting the equal participation of women and men in addressing development issues. Anakazi Center accomplishes this mission through three core areas: Advocacy, Business Development, and Mentorship of Women and Girls. Other players in the innovation space include banks such as ZANACO Bank who recently launched an Innovation Lab in 2019 to enhance the Bank’s role in providing a platform to startups, the youth and its partners to facilitate the development of ideas. In addition to the private sector, the government also plays a role in supporting and developing innovation in the country. The National Technology Business Centre (NTBC) is a government agency that supports the commercialization and transfer of technology, under the Ministry of Science and Technology. The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) which is an ICT regulatory body also provides support for innovators and entrepreneurs.
The advancement and adoption of technology have contributed to the growing number of startups in Zambia. Increased funding opportunities are also among the reasons driving the growth of startups. Although funding is one of the major challenges faced by many startups, there has been an improvement over the years. In the logistics industry, digital innovations are still on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in the number of courier service providers and eCommerce standout startups such as Afridelivery - an online platform where customers can place orders for food and goods (FMCG) from restaurants and retailers in Lusaka and have them delivered to their location. Smart logistics would be the next step for the future of the logistics industry. There are few companies that have adopted the use of digital technology at that scale in the country. These include Karton Transportation and Fendeza Logistics. Most of the businesses that may be in this particular type of industry are at the infancy stage, or perhaps do not have the know-how and/or financing to incorporate digital technology into their businesses. It is for this reason that BongoHive is pleased to be a partner on the DIGILOGIC, to assist in the facilitation of new ideas and encourage local entrepreneurs and innovators to adopt emerging technologies into their logistics solutions. Zambia being a land-locked country that is rich in resources has the potential to have a very fruitful logistics industry, and through the opportunities to be taken from this project, stands to have more businesses that are competitive in the industry.