Focus: ZNDC

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Jul. 6, 2017

As Zambia continues its journey of digital migration, the ZNDC will go a long way toward giving it the necessary infrastructure to handle big data and provide more IT services to its citizens.

In an address to Parliament in 2015, President Lungu announced plans to develop the Zambian National Data Centre (ZNDC), set to be an integral part of Smart Zambia 2030 Phase I, a program harnessing new technologies to transform the face of Zambia's service provision. Two years on, the USD75 million data management and storage facility has finally been launched. The ZNDC has been built to Tier-III standards, with 3 petabyte (PB) storage capacity, roughly equivalent to 3 million HD movies. The facility consists of a production center, software, and infrastructure services, and two back-up facilities and recovery sites located in Kitwe and Roma, respectively. A platform for providing hosting services to private and public sector institutions, the establishment of the ZNDC is a vital step in the move toward a fully electronic governmental system. As well as improving administration and efficiency in data management systems across the country, the center will also be a valuable tool in reducing ICT expenditure. ZNDC Ggeneral Manager Garry Mukelebai revealed to the press that the data center will be down for only 94 minutes a year, giving shareholders near-permanent access to their data.

The ZNDC was constructed by Huawei Technologies following the signing of a financing agreement between President Lungu and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a state visit to China in 2015. A further USD365 million will be spent on the construction of a computer assembly plant, also located at the ZNDC, as well as on other initiatives as part of Smart Zambia. This funding was provided by the Export-Import Bank of China through so-called soft loans, or financing agreements with lending terms that are less grueling than average.

ICT services in Zambia are among the most expensive in the world. Although the country had, at last count, 6.1 million internet users and a penetration rate of 39%, this figure could be considerably higher if low-cost internet were successfully rolled out to all corners of the country, including rural communities. Minister of Transport and Communication, the Honorable Brian Mushimba, told TBY “The ZNDC is one of the key deliverables for Smart Zambia Phase I. As we continue the journey of digital migration for the country, we need the infrastructure to handle big data. The data center, one of the best in the region, with a backup in Ndola and a recovery center in Kitwe, gives us the infrastructure with which to start. We are excited about this installation, which is part of this government's bigger picture for providing e-services and ensuring the universal inclusion of our citizens using ICT and telecommunications countrywide."