Arusha. Tanzania has highlighted the strategy it is taking to embrace technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI) in its digital economy while steadfastly guarding against potential threats.

With a vision to become the nucleus of the digital economy on the continent, the nation has charted a course that intertwines innovation with vigilance, ensuring the safety of its citizens in the digital realm.

“At the core of our pursuit lies the safety and security of our people,” affirmed the director general of the ICT Commission, Dr Nkundwe Mwasaga, during a cybersecurity conference on April 5, 2024.

“As Tanzania delves deeper into the realm of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies, safeguarding our citizens against malicious actors takes precedence,” he said.

The advent of artificial intelligence has ushered in a new era of possibilities, enabling tasks once deemed insurmountable to be tackled with unprecedented efficiency.

A cybersecurity specialist, Mr Yusuf Kileo, elucidated the transformative power of AI, particularly in the sphere of cyber threat detection.

“AI serves as a formidable ally in identifying and mitigating cyber threats, offering a proactive approach to safeguarding our digital infrastructure,” Mr Kileo remarked.

However, amidst the promise of AI lies the lurking shadow of exploitation. Mr Kileo cautioned against the immoral potential of individuals seeking to weaponise AI for malicious intents.

“We stand witness to increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, with AI serving as an enabler for malevolent actors,” he warned.

The necessity for robust regulations and frameworks to govern the deployment of AI became apparent, echoing sentiments echoed by global counterparts in the European Union and the United States.

“Regulations are imperative to ensure the responsible integration of AI into our society,” emphasised Mr Kileo.

“By monitoring and controlling technological advancements, we can preemptively address potential risks while maximising the benefits offered by AI.”

Echoing the sentiment, the chief executive officer of Serensic Africa, Ms Esther Mengi, underscored the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors in combating emerging threats.

“Vigilance is key to safeguarding against AI-related crimes,” stated Ms Mengi. “Through concerted efforts and information sharing, we can bolster our defence and mitigate risks effectively.”

As Tanzania propels towards a digital economy, education emerges as a cornerstone for fortifying the nation’s resilience against evolving threats.

Dr Mwasaga highlighted the government’s commitment to enhancing AI literacy among Tanzanians, emphasising the essential role of education in fostering a cyber-secure environment.

“In our journey towards the digital economy, knowledge is our most potent weapon,” asserted Dr Mwasaga. “By empowering our citizens with the necessary skills and awareness, we fortify our collective defence against emerging threats.”

Moreover, the government has taken proactive steps to integrate AI into official functions, as exemplified by its implementation in the judiciary system.

Dr Mwasaga noted the tangible benefits accrued from such endeavours, citing efficiency enhancements and improved service delivery.

Nevertheless, the road towards a digital future is fraught with challenges, necessitating constant adaptation and collaboration.

Dr Mwasaga reiterated Tanzania’s commitment to international cooperation, emphasising the importance of learning from global cybersecurity organisations.

“As threats evolve, so must our defence,” affirmed Dr Mwasaga. “Through collaboration and knowledge sharing, we fortify our resilience against emerging threats, ensuring the safety and prosperity of our nation.”

In the pursuit of the digital economy, Tanzania stands as a beacon of innovation, guided by principles of security and inclusivity, Ms Mengi said.

“With a steadfast commitment to harnessing AI for the betterment of our citizens, the nation embarks on a journey towards a future where technology serves as a catalyst for progress, underpinned by safety and trust,” she said.