TANZANIA’S communication sector has improved significantly during the last six decades, with the construction and expansion of the National Information Communication Technology Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) infrastructure being the most notable.
As the country marks 62nd anniversary of independence today, the government continues to invest in the national backbone network, aiming to have 15,000km in service by the end of 2023 and to provide ongoing connectivity to more countries in the region. The government has encouraged foreign participation to promote economic growth and social development, and policy reforms have led to the country having one of the most liberal telecom sectors in Africa.
The government has also sought to increase broadband penetration by a range of measures, including the reduction in VAT charged on the sale of smartphones and other devices and reductions in the cost of data. NICTBB has aided service providers in delivering communication services to the public more quickly, reliably, and cost-effectively, thus accelerating the national development by allowing citizens to use ICT.
The government says NICTBB facilitates the rapid transfer of high-quality data and information, contributing to the development of the telecommunications sector and thus to the nation’s economic growth.
The benefits of NICTBB, according to the government, include a reduction in mobile phone interconnection fees from 115/- per minute in 2009 to10.4/- in 2020 and decrease in end-user costs resulting in expanded use in telecommunications services. The sector’s growth is reflected in the increased use of mobile phones, the internet, financial transactions and the proliferation of various online service delivery systems.
The government data shows that on December 9, 1961, the then Tanganyika had 16,238 landline phones in use across the country, most of which belonged to government institutions and departments. According to TCRA’s June 2023 statistics, Tanzania had 64,088,651 subscribers.
As Tanzania throws the weight behind financial inclusiveness, mobile money service subscriptions stood at 51.7 million, according to the TCRA’s data compiled in the quarter ending 30th September 2023.
With regard to internet users, data compiled in September this year shows Tanzania had 34.47 million subscribers. The trend of telecom subscriptions for the past five years shows an increasing trend with an average increase of 8 per cent per annum. Penetration rate has also been increasing at 4 per cent per annum.
On internet services, statistics presented in the report shows that internet subscriptions and usage is also on the increase. Subscriptions are presented based on number of lines subscribing internet services and usage is in terms of data traffic.
The annual internet subscription presented shows an average growth rate of 17 per cent. Money transactions are also on the increasing value, thanks to a rise in access and use of digital platforms by mobile telecommunication companies that are helping to boost financial inclusion.
Mobile Money Subscriptions in Tanzania hit 44.35 million subscribers by the end of March 2023 the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) revealed. According to the data in 2020, there were 32.26 million subscribers, which went up to a record 35.28 million subscribers in 2021 and then 40.95 million subscribers in 2022. The Number of subscriptions has also been increasing at the average rate of 13 per cent per year.
TCRA’s June 2022 statistics show the value of mobile money transactions increased by 8.6 per cent to 11.608tri/- in June this year from 10.689tri/- in May as more and more Tanzanians and non-Tanzanians use digital platforms of mobile network operators. On year basis, the value of mobile transcription increased from 101.87tri/- in 2019 to 127.943tri/- in 2020 and 137.2tri/- in 2021. From January to June this year the value reached 63.2tri/-, TCRA statistics show.
With such success in mind, the government is determined to ensure that all wards in Tanzania will be connected to the NICTBB by 2026. This is part of the country’s strategy to ensure 80 per cent internet penetration in the country by 2025, the Deputy Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Kundo Mathew said in Dar es Salaam recently.
Eng Mathew explained that Tanzania’s communications policies, licensing framework and legal, regulatory and institutional framework had contributed to the growth of the sector.
He said that licences had also increased, with the applications service category jumping by almost 40 per cent within a year, from 66 in July 2021 to 111 in November 2022. Applications services were among the four main categories of the converged licensing framework (CLF) Tanzania introduced in 2005.
The other categories, with the number of licences in brackets, are Network facilities (22), Network services (13), Television stations (61) and Radio stations (218). A new category for online content, introduced in 2018 has 390 online televisions.
The deputy minister described Tanzania’s recent auction of the frequency spectrum in four prime bands Tanzania as crucial in accelerating Tanzania’s digital strategy. Eleven blocks of four international mobile telecommunications bands were successfully auctioned in October and winning bidders were given roll-out obligations.
The country is expected to earn 187 million US dollars from the auctioned 11 blocks of spectrum in the 700 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2600 MHz and 3500 MHz bands on October 11, 2022, whereby some spectrums were bought at almost thrice the reserved price.
“Tanzania has adopted pro-ICT policies and supportive legal and regulatory framework towards building an ICT-driven nation comprising of knowledge-based society,” he said.
He mentioned some of the sector policies and acts as the National ICT Policy 2016, the National Postal Policy 2003, which is being reviewed, the National Broadcasting Policy 2003 and the Electronic and Postal Communications Act 2010 (EPOCA) and its regulations. Others are the Electronic Transactions Act 2015, the Cybercrimes Act 2015 and the Data Protection Bill, which was passed by Parliament earlier this month.
Eng Kundo also said that Tanzania has made progress on the programme to provide and manage physical addresses as part of the country’s digital transformation strategy.
“The programme will ensure that all citizens are accessible through their physical addresses; therefore, facilitating their participation and involvement in electronic transactions and e-commerce,” he explained.
It is expected that all individuals and businesses will have physical addresses by the end of the year, he added.