Using digital tools to improve service delivery in Pemba District, Zambia

Regional focus: Zambia

Time: October – December 2022

This study is conducted with an Impact Research Grant – stipends for projects designed to facilitate solutions to local governments’ expressed needs. The projects build on Local Democracy Labs, where local governments discuss a current issue with expert researchers.


Technology plays an increasingly essential role in supporting the effective functioning of local government activities. On one hand, a digital strategy can be defined with an internal, management focus that pertains to the day-to-day functions of technology infrastructure of local government and on the other, can be viewed as the strategic communication-focused definition, which flows from local government to citizens.

Pemba Town Council lacks a digital strategy that can guide it through several of its modernization projects, such as building a centralised data repository, strengthening its data and financial system, providing public services for citizens, among other actions. This project serves to help Pemba develop a holistic digitalization strategy based on the needs and desires of communities. Barriers such as technological illiteracy and budget constraints demonstrate the need for citizen engagement in digital transformation, and attention in the planning stage to behavioral, technical and infrastructural factors.

Research question: “How can digital tools be used to improve service delivery for Pemba Town Council?”

Using collaborative action research will help Pemba Town Council better understand the problem and also to help comprehensively determine the solution, while the community of Pemba is included in co-creating the digital solutions to the service delivery issues that affect them.

Research team:

1. Channel Zhou, Rhodes University

2. Kabaso Kabwe, University of Johannesburg

3. Luiza Jardim, Federal University of Minas Gerais

4. Ekaterine Surguladze, Tbilisi City Hall