A view of the Bank of Zambia in Lusaka / Photo: Reuters

By Muzhinga Kankinda

In the global shift from analog to digital way of doing things, Zambia stands tall. It is embracing transformative technologies that redefine our socio-economic landscape.

The digital wave has not only spurred economic growth in Zambia but also sparked innovation, paving the way for new businesses and job opportunities.

This digital surge has fostered a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, optimised resource allocation, and bolstered Zambia's competitiveness on the global stage.

The digital revolution in Zambia has also democratised access to information and services.

The rise of fintech, ecommerce and web development has broadened the horizons for Zambians, enabling them to tap into a wealth of educational resources, remote healthcare and government services online.

This digital empowerment has fostered social inclusion and transformed the way Zambians live and learn.

Moreover, digital technologies have catalysed e-governance initiatives, streamlining administrative processes, curbing corruption, and enhancing service delivery.

A case in point is the Zambia Revenue Authority's launch of an online tax platform, simplifying tax payment and information access, thereby reinforcing governance systems and citizen compliance.

The digital revolution in Zambia transcends technology. It's about crafting a future where digital tools are the catalysts for progress, empowerment, and the achievement of sustainable development goals.

As Zambia navigates this digital journey, strategic policies, investments, and collaborations are crucial to unlocking the full potential of the digital era.

Internet penetration

Despite its strides in the digital realm, Zambia grapples with a digital divide. With only 21.2% of its population connected to the internet as of January 2023, Zambia lags behind the global average of 63.6%.

Similarly, social media usage stands at 18.7%, a figure dwarfed by the global average of 51.7%.

Meanwhile, mobile connections, predominantly prepaid, account for 44.8% of the population, a stark contrast to the global average of 108%.

A line of mobile money agents sit at Lusaka's central business district in Lusaka, Zambia February 23, 2024. Reuters

The challenges to internet penetration in Zambia are multifaceted. Infrastructure deficits force reliance on mobile networks, yet only 40% of the population has access to 3G or 4G services.

On top of that, high data costs, averaging $8.01 per GB, render internet access a luxury for many.

According to Zambia Monitor, one of the country's biggest news outlets, Zambia was ranked fourth on the list of the most expensive data prices in Africa between June and September, 2023.

On the other hand, a literacy rate of 63.4% coupled with a lack of digital skills training further impedes internet usage. These coupled with limited local content production and restrictive regulations pose significant hurdles.

Consequently, Zambia's digital journey is a tale of progress and potential, yet it underscores the need for strategic interventions to bridge the digital divide.

As Zambia navigates this digital landscape, the focus must be on fostering inclusivity, enhancing infrastructure, and promoting digital literacy.

Infrastructure and policy

While the digital revolution is a global game-changer, it brings a new set of challenges and risks, particularly in the realms of cybersecurity, privacy, regulation, and inclusion.

Moreover, a World Bank report points out key areas of concern such as the absence of a comprehensive digital transformation strategy, low digital literacy levels, limited and costly broadband internet access, and a weak regulatory framework for digital governance.

The country also contends with digital threats that impact its security, stability, and social harmony.

These range from cyberattacks, as witnessed in 2019 when government websites were targeted, to online harassment, hate speech, misinformation, and defamation, all of which have eroded public trust and civic engagement.

Moreover, the digital divide remains high, leaving many, particularly those in rural areas, women, youth, and persons with disabilities, unable to reap the benefits of digital technologies.

It's clear that Zambia must address these gaps to fully embrace the digital revolution.

Economic and societal opportunities

Zambia's digital revolution holds the promise of significant economic and social benefits.

A mere 10% increase in internet and mobile penetration could boost Zambia's GDP per capita by 1.12% and 0.7% respectively, according to a World Bank report.

This digital transformation could also generate up to 1.6 million new jobs by 2030 across diverse sectors, enhancing public services in health, education, and social protection.

Zambia's digital journey is a tale of progress and potential under the leadership of President Hakainde Hichilema. Photo: Reuters

For Zambia, a landlocked nation, digital transformation opens doors to innovation, entrepreneurship, education, health, and governance.

Digital services like online banking, solar-powered internet cafes, and electronic micro-loans have simplified financial access, with mobile payments seeing a 26% increase from January to April 2020.

Zambians are increasingly leveraging e-commerce, e-learning, e-health, e-government, and digital media to access information, goods, services, and entertainment.

For instance, platforms like DotCom Zambia and Zamgoat Products enable entrepreneurs to reach local and international markets, while e-learning platforms like Mwabu offer interactive, localised educational content.

On the other hand, innovation hubs, incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces are also playing a pivotal role in Zambia's digital landscape.

These platforms, such as BongoHive and Impact Hub Lusaka, provide Zambian innovators, entrepreneurs, and creatives with mentorship, training, funding, and networking opportunities.

Startups like Musanga Logistics, a BongoHive graduate, are testament to the potential of these platforms, offering on-demand delivery services via a network of bicycle couriers.

In essence, Zambia's digital revolution is not just about technology—it's about unlocking potential, driving progress, and shaping a future where digital tools empower people and foster sustainable development.


To harness the digital economy's potential and achieve its national development goals, Zambia must invest in its digital infrastructure and policy. Here are some crucial steps:

This strategy should align with the 8th National Development Plan (8NDP), providing a clear vision, roadmap, and coordination mechanism for digital initiatives across sectors.

Through education, training, and awareness programs, the government can enhance digital literacy among the population. These initiatives should be inclusive, fostering innovation and creativity across all societal segments.

Regulatory framework

Public-private partnerships, infrastructure sharing, spectrum management, and universal service funds can enhance broadband internet access and affordability, promoting competition and inclusion.

Updating laws and policies on cybersecurity, data protection, e-commerce, e-government, and digital rights, establishing independent oversight bodies, and building technical expertise among stakeholders can bolster digital governance.

By addressing these needs, Zambia can fast-track its digital transformation, becoming a more productive, resilient, and inclusive nation in the Digital Revolution era.

Zambia's digital revolution journey has already yielded significant benefits, enhancing productivity, innovation, education, health, and governance. Successful digital initiatives include e-voucher systems for farmers, mobile money platforms, internet banking, online learning platforms, and digital storytelling projects.

However, to cultivate a vibrant and inclusive digital ecosystem, Zambia must invest more in digital infrastructure, policies, and skills.

Collaboration and coordination among the government, private sector, civil society, and development partners are crucial to support digital transformation.

As Zambia strides towards digital growth, it's imperative for everyone to join the revolution.

Digital experts, the government and the masses should support digital initiatives, learn digital skills, and share stories that showcase digital technologies' potential and impact in Zambia.

The author, Muzhinga Kankinda, is a content creator from Zambia and the co-author of The Economic Case of Investing in Podcasters and Voice Artists.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT Afrika.

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