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close this bookInformation Technology in Selected Countries (UNU, 1994, 148 pages)
close this folder4: Development of information technology in Tanzania
View the document(introductory text...)
View the document1. History of informatics in Tanzania
View the document2. Current situation: Computer hardware
View the document3. Trend in growth of hardware acquisition since the 1960s
View the document4. Current situation: Computer software
View the document5. Informatics education and training
View the document6. Computer usage
View the document7. Informatics infrastructure
View the document8. Informatics policy
View the documentReferences

3. Trend in growth of hardware acquisition since the 1960s

Numbers

Information on numbers and makes of computers imported is not readily available. Some investigations have been made.1,2 These authors note that the figures provided are based on inaccurate official statistics. The real number of computers is undoubtedly much higher than those figures. Nevertheless, figures 4.1 and 4.2 show the exponential growth rate of computer acquisition in Tanzania in the 1980s. Table 4.1 shows the number of computers by sector in 1986. As in other countries, what is important is not the number of units but how they are used. This is even more important for computers acquired using public funds.

Computer Vendors in Tanzania

Up to the end of the 1970s, ICL and NCR were the only computer companies with an office in Tanzania. ICL was more dominant, as NCR was more involved in selling business machines than computers. Almost all of the early computers installed in Tanzania were of ICL make.

Currently there are many agents selling computers in Tanzania. Most of these vendors deal with only one make of computer. The following are the main vendors of computers in Tanzania:

- Computer Corporation of Tanzania Limited (CCTL) - Agent for Wang Computers. Currently sells all ranges of Wang computers.
- Computers and Telecoms Systems Limited (CATS) - Agent for ICL Computers. Sells all ranges of ICL computers.
- Business Machines Limited (BML) - Agent for Apple, Olivetti, and recently Digital Equipment Company computers. Currently sells microcomputers and Micro-Vax Computers.


Fig. 4.1. Number of large computer systems in Tanzania, 1968-1986 (Source: ref. 2)


Fig. 4.2. Number of microcomputers in Tanzania, 1980-1986 (Source: ref. 2)

Table 4.1. Distribution of computers by sector, 1986

Sector

Micros

Minis

Mainframes

Other

Total

Percentage

Public








Government

223

7

3

4

237

30.5


Parastatal

223

23

15

17

278

35.7

Private

235

16

4

8

263

33.8

Total

681

46

22

29

778


Percentage

87.6

5.9

2.8

3.7


100.0

Source: Ref. 1.

- NCR Corporation (Tanzania) Limited
Representative of NCR Corporation. Sells all ranges of NCR computers.

- MEECO International Limited (MEECO)
Agent for Unisys Computers. Sells all ranges of Unisys computers.

- International Communications Systems Limited
Agent for IBM computers. Currently deals in microcomputers only.

- IMS Computer Limited
Agent for Amstrad and Tandon computers.

Computer Hardware Market Shares

The computer hardware market shares are still very volatile. Leadership keeps on changing. It is however fair to say that in the minicomputer and mainframe market the most successful vendors so far are JCL, CCTL, and NCR. In the microcomputer market, BML and CCTL may be leading.

Computer Consumables

Apart from the usual computer hardware units, in the case of microcomputers comprised of system unit, monitor, and keyboard, there are consumables that are vital for computer use, including ribbons for printers and floppy disks. These are in short supply within the country and whenever they are available they are sold at exorbitant prices. The price of one high-density floppy disk, for example, is more than US$15.00 in the open market. The same floppy disk sells at around US$1.5 in the Western world.

Servicing of Computer Hardware in Tanzania

Hardware maintenance in Tanzania is a big problem, especially for microcomputers. According to Sheya and Koda,2 about 80 per cent of mainframe computers, 50 per cent of minicomputers, and 60 per cent of microcomputers are owned by institutions, and only 25 per cent of microcomputers owned by individuals have got local support service. This has resulted in some computers standing idle after purchase, as is the case with the IBM system 36 computer at General Tyre (EA) in Arusha. This situation has also resulted in some computer vendors, such as Business Machines Ltd., opting to service a variety of computers in addition to those that they officially support. The Science Workshop at the University of Dar es Salaam is also equipped with personnel who can service a variety of microcomputers and other electronic machines. Lack of spare parts is a major problem for the Science Workshop.

Scarcity of spare parts for computers is a major problem for the whole country. Many vendors concentrate on importing computer units but not spare parts or other accessories. Some vendors, such as CCTL, which is an agent for Wang Computers, completely refuse to service computers that are not imported into the country through them.