Bridging Zambia’s Digital Divide Through Community Transformation Hubs


The Zambian government recently unveiled an ambitious plan to establish Community Digital Transformation Centers (CDTCs) across the country. These hubs aim to enhance Zambia’s digital ecosystem while empowering citizens through free internet access, digital skills training, and online service delivery. 

The Science and Technology Minister announced the initiative, highlighting how CDTCs can create jobs and improve the quality of life, especially in rural areas. He stated that beyond just providing internet access, the centres will serve as training grounds for digital literacy, entrepreneurship, and innovation programs.

The plan leverages Zambia’s new partnership with Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet service, which is providing lawmakers with Starlink kits for their constituencies. These kits enable high-speed, reliable connectivity in remote and underserved areas lacking terrestrial infrastructure. 

Existing postal service facilities and other suitable spaces will house the CDTCs. Smart Zambia, the government ICT promotion agency, will oversee the installation, operation, and coordination of the centres and their digital offerings.

This aligns with Zambia’s goal of increasing internet penetration and innovation. The country of over 20 million has 4.3 million internet users – just 21.2% penetration versus Africa’s 39.3% average. Only 16.6% can access broadband and 9.5% mobile internet, highlighting the stark digital divide.

By providing free, reliable access and digital skills training, the government aims to bridge this divide while fostering an entrepreneurial and innovative culture. CDTCs can also support online education, healthcare, commerce and government services. 

The government has allocated $13 million towards launching the first CDTCs before year-end and invited private sector and civil society collaboration. Selecting locations involves factors like existing infrastructure availability, internet needs and local stakeholder engagement.

While an exciting development, effective implementation requires overcoming some key challenges. These include:

  • Ensuring adequate resources, expertise and community participation for long-term sustainability.
  • Providing relevant, high-quality training tailored to local needs and opportunities.
  • Developing locally relevant digital content, services and innovations.
  • Expanding internet connectivity beyond the CDTCs across rural areas. 
  • Monitoring progress and maximizing national impact.

With a thoughtful approach focused on community empowerment, Zambia’s CDTCs can open unlimited possibilities for youth, women, entrepreneurs, farmers and other marginalized groups. They can drive digital transformation while preserving local culture and values. CDTCs have immense potential to uplift Zambian society and economy, making this initiative worth the investment of time, effort and collaboration across sectors.



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