The Directorate of Information and Documentation (DID), established under Part IV of Act No.7 of 1986 of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) encompasses Science and Technology Library, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Unit, Publications and Publishing Programs, Documentation of Scientific and Technological Literature, Popularization of Science and Technology and Improvement of Systems of Communication and Knowledge Access by using modern ICTs.
The Directorate is charged with the fulfillment of the following three major objectives:
- Acquisition, process, storage, and disseminate scientific information and technologies to scientific community and general public;
- Foster equitable access to information and knowledge for development;
- Create awareness and popularize Science and Technology at all levels of the Tanzania society.
Core Activities and Programs:
1.0 Popularization of S&T
Science and technology are recognized as a strategic tool for socio-economic development. But the Tanzania society does not embrace this tool in its culture and social consciousness. Thus it is imperative to inject and popularize science and technology to enable society to seek solutions of its socio-economic problems from this field. Thus COSTECH working in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology (MCST) (parent Ministry) have been using the electronic and print media to popularize S&T to the general public. S&T programs are broadcast over the radio and television on a weekly basis over the last fifteen years. On the side of print media, COSTECH has been monthly booklets on funding opportunities for research grants, fellowships and sponsorships as well as using local newspapers and magazines to popularize science and technology by publishing news and feature articles on science and technology.
2.0 Access to Knowledge
Access to knowledge is a necessary condition for human development. But such access is not universal. Recent advances in ICTs have increased such access and made it possible for more and more people to access information and knowledge through digital libraries and online distribution of science, technology and innovations information for development of individuals and societies.
2.1 Tanzania – Finland ICT Innovation Center (TANZICT)
The TANZICT is a five year project supported by the Government of Finland. The starting point of the TANZICT project is that Tanzanian information society aspirations and developments also require the build-up of absorptive and innovative capabilities throughout the Tanzanian emerging ICT ecosystem. The overall objective of the TANZICT project is to enhance the achievement of key socio-economic goals (poverty reduction, societal renewal and economic growth) through providing support to Tanzania on its road towards an information society, and through strengthening the institutional set up of the ICT sector as well as development of favorable environment for absorptive and innovative capacities in the sector. The project’s purpose is to facilitate policy and strategy processes, mechanisms for knowledge development, transfer of skills, capacity building, and initiatives to improve connectivity between the public and private sectors throughout the emerging Tanzanian ICT ecosystem and broader system of innovation.
This component acknowledges weak absorptive and innovative capacities especially in content and application, as well as consumer and user layers of the emerging Tanzanian ICT ecosystem. It will involve activities to create a knowledge base for ICT innovation policy, promotion of cooperation and interaction between core actors of the Tanzanian innovation systems, financially support innovative projects, and liaison with other relevant projects in Tanzania and abroad (with an emphasis on an exchange program to Finland).
This component acknowledges the limited experiences with roll-out of ICT content and applications at rural-local and sectoral levels in Tanzania. It will launch three small pilot projects, all of which can represent a first step towards developing ICT content and applications tailored to local needs (to address socio-economic issues in local or sectoral communities). The first pilot project is a local information society initiative, the second relates to the local adaptation of good practices (DEMOLA-an open innovation environment) from Finland, while the third pushes for ICT applications in the fisheries and agriculture sectors.
2.2 National Research and Education Network
COSTECH is a beneficiary of the World Bank funded Science, Technology and Higher Education Project (STHEP). In the expenditure category of Consumables and Operating Costs, there was a component for the increase of ICT bandwidth capacity from 4 Mbps in year 1 to 16 Mbps by year 3.
This project of securing internet bandwidth for COSTECH is in line with the organizations mission of enabling and promoting education and research institutions. Already the internet link of 1Mbps is being shared with 17 affiliated institutions. Therefore acquiring this new bandwidth will upgrade the COSETCH infrastructure and allow even more institutions to be able to utilize bandwidth. The other aspect of this is the linking with Regional and National Education and Research Networks in Europe, North America, South America and Asia. This connection through the NRENs will allow institutions through COSTECH network infrastructure to share and access research material as well as education material, and libraries.
COSTECH is also spearheading the implementation of Component 2B: Investments in system-wide ICT libraries under shared mechanism.
Shared Mechanism of the STHEP has 2 inter-related sub-components as follows:
- National Research and Education Network (NREN),
- ICT Applications and Infrastructure (Education Management Information System (EMIS), Library Management System (LMS), e-learning resources for teachers and students for HEIs.
COSTECH is determined to fulfill its part of the mission in making available access to advanced research and education networks worldwide.
2.3 Tanzania Biodiversity Information Facility
COSTECH in partnership with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is implementing a three year pilot project titled “Capacity Enhancement Program for Developing Countries-CEPDEC”. The aim of this project which commenced early 2007 is to build a science infrastructure that will enhance capacity in mobilizing and using biodiversity data and information for a sustainable future in Tanzania. Through this project the following have been done;
- Tanzania Biodiversity Information Facility (TanBIF) has been established. TanBIF is an extensive, decentralized system of national biodiversity information units that intends to provide free and universal access to biodiversity data and information.
- The TanBIF National Committee to oversee TanBIF activities is in place and met regularly. Members for the Committee are representatives of policy makers, research and academic institutions from such sectors as environment, fisheries, forestry, wildlife, health, agriculture and livestock.
- The TanBIF Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has already been ratified by the TanBIF National Committee. Membership to TanBIF is open to any national institution interested to share biodiversity data and information.
- ETI Bioinformatics and GBIF developed TanBIF web portal which was launched in November 2008.
- Tanzania hold the 15th GBIF Governing Board Meeting and its related meetings in October/November 2008 during the time of holding the Third National Annual Science and Technology Conference at Arusha.
- COSTECH is hosting TaBIF Secretariat. It has provided a room with furniture for TanBIF and will host TanBIF data portal.
- The 1st TanBIF Governing Board met in Mach 2010 with more than 30 members representing institutions that have signed MoU. The meeting among the other things endorsed the exist strategies for CEPDEC project which is to come to an end by November 2010. The exist strategy includes 10 year TanBIF strategic plan, resource mobilization document, and organization structure for TanBIF.
2.4 Digital Library
About COS eLib
COS eLib is a digital library consisting of electronic documents, many of which are found within COSTECH (Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology). COS eLib is maintained and updated at COSTECH. It consists of collections of abstracts of various types of research publications, Tanzania journals, journal extracts and others. It seeks to play the role of a conservatory and information support utility that strives to serve users, which include scientists, students, researches and others, within COSTECH and the larger research community in the country. The digital library presents a new way of disseminating research information in a manner that can be accessed globally. Links to other useful e-resources are also available on the digital library.
To acquire, store and disseminate science and technology information in the digital format.
To digitize printed materials by scanning and OCR.
To organize the digital collections by using Greenstone digital library software for dissemination of information.
To manage and preserve information.
To keep the public up to date and aware of current local and international science, technology and innovation issues.
Currently, there are six collections namely, ‘Research Publications’, ‘Open Access’, ‘TanBIF’, ‘Reports’, ‘Newspaper Clippings’, and ‘Journals’.
Research Publications collection consists of abstracts of different types of research publications, including reports, case studies, working papers, articles, journal extracts and more.
Open Access collection consists of open access articles that have been distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
TanBIF collection consists of open access information collected from Tanzania Notes and Records journal. Over 1000 articles regarding Tanzania and its people during 1936 to 1985 are found in this collection. The articles were provided by TanBIF (Tanzania Biodiversity Information Facility).
Reports collection consists of a variety of reports submitted to COSTECH. They include research reports, ecological reports, case studies, interim reports, final reports, progress reports and others.
Newspaper Clippings consists of clippings from local Tanzanian newspapers on local and international news regarding science, technology and innovation.
Journals collection consists of journals from various institutions. These journals have been contributed to COSTECH for placement on the digital library.
Most of these collections are regularly updated to include more publications.
2.5 Development and Application of ICT
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are important tools for facilitating socio-economic development. They enhance efficiency in the workplace, increase the ease and speed of communications, improve access to knowledge and contribute towards good governance. Thus COSTECH has seized most opportunities to collaborate with development partners to formulate initiatives at the local and national government level to stimulate utilization of emerging technologies. Current initiatives include:
2.5.1 IST-Africa (Regional Impact of Information Society Technologies in Africa)
Objective: To identify and promote ICT research cooperation with counterpart organizations in EU and Sub-Sahara Africa.
Under the signed agreement between COSTECH and EU, COSTECH will undertake the following:
- Deploying two of its staff members for the identification and mobilization of originations with high potential for ICT research to participate in collaborative projects
- Participation in regional (Africa) and European ICT conferences which form part of this initiative.
2.5.2 Rural ICT Projects
(a) Lugoba and Dakawa Projects
The main objectives of this project are:
- To utilize village information system for eGovernance
- To provide ICT-based services such as access to knowledge, email services and others.
An ICT Centre is functioning at grassroots level (Lugoba), which provides ICT training, document preparation, email, and database services. A website has been established for Lugoba Village, Bagamoyo District (visithttp://www.lungalugoba.or.tz). While the Lugoba project is more advanced with many ICT services, a similar project is running in Dakawa, Mvomero District, without Internet connectivity . This Project begun with development partner support (UNESCO) but now relies on COSTECH for meeting bandwidth charges worth USD 150 per month and technical support.
(b) ICT for Rural Development
Building on the infrastructure at the Lugoba ICT Centre, another initiative begun in the year 2006 whose aim is to create sustainable broadband markets in the villages along the Chalinze-Miono Area in Bagamoyo District that utilize ICTs to stimulate development in areas. A similar initiative was undertaken in Bunda-Mugumu in Bunda/Serengeti districts.
Development partner (SIDA) provided support for broadband market creation and COSTECH provides office, coordination and local staff as well as project planning and implementation.
2.5.3 Mainstreaming ICTs
In spite of adopting the National ICT Policy in 2003, Tanzania is still not reaping the benefits available from the knowledge society and finds it difficult to deliberately use ICTs to increase the pace of its development agenda in addressing poverty and transom its economy. Thus SIDA agreed to support COSTECH on this initiative to engage with key stakeholders in order to accelerate the deployment of ICTs in the poverty alleviation and national development. COSTECH undertaken the followings activities:
- Preparation of District Level ICT intervention and implementation plans
- Establishing collaboration with the State House
- Finalizing the framework the ICT in education in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training
- Finalizing of the special video showing Tanzania participation at the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) email the Tanzania@WSIS Video in 2005.
- Follow up on an agreement reached in principle with the Director General of TCRA to prepare a strategy to review and update the National ICT Policy and other national policies related to the Knowledge Economy
- Continuing to firm up partnerships and collaborations, and nurture synergies with various ICT stakeholders
2.5.4 Coordinating ICT Research – ICTs and Poverty Reduction (PICTURE-Africa)
The project is supported by IDRC Canada to undertake the followings activities:
- To investigate the effects of access and use of ICTs on the circumstances of poverty in households.
- COSTECH was invited to participate in this East Africa-wide project which begun in Uganda under the title “Poverty & Information and Communication Technology System in Urban and Rural Systems in Rural Eastern Africa (IICTURE Africa): Case Studies from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda “. It overall goal is to facilitate future policy decisions concerning the allocation and targeting of resources for poverty reduction by providing analysis of the ICT/poverty nexus that adopts an analytical framework drawn from a multi-disciplinary perspective.
- To continue to host the project and make available to of COSTECH staff members plus consultants (hired on temporary basis) for project planning and implementation work on this project