Nape throws more weight on mobile penetration

DAR ES SALAAM: THE government has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting telecommunications companies in the country to ensure smooth provision of service, improve mobile connectivity, and foster economic growth and innovation.

The Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Mr Nape Nnauye, made the remarks on Thursday during the launch of the White Paper research in Dar es Salaam.

The research, titled “The Independent Tower Industry as a Key Enabler of the Development of African Telecommunications” by Dr Raul Katz, was commissioned by SBA Communications and Telecom Advisory Services to examine the role of the independent tower industry in expanding connectivity in Africa.

Dr Katz’s research highlights the significant impact of infrastructure investment on the growth and accessibility of telecommunications services across the continent.

Speaking during the launch, Mr Nape commended the findings, emphasising that independent towers promote competition in the telecommunications sector, leading to lower prices and improved services for consumers.

“In this, I encourage the implementation of the country’s laws and policies, which is one of the solutions to reduce costs for users, especially people living in rural areas who cannot afford to use more than one SIM card,” he noted.

He acknowledged the invaluable contribution of independent towers to the development of the Tanzanian telecommunications industry and expressed the government’s commitment to supporting their continued growth and success.

Mr Nape also emphasised the importance of meaningful connectivity, which includes availability, affordability, quality, safety and the impact of online services.

To achieve widespread com- munication service penetration in the country, Mr Nape stressed the need for infrastructure sharing as the best approach to reduce investment and operating costs for mobile network cooperatives. He further encouraged the implementation of national laws to lower costs for users, particularly those in rural areas who cannot afford to use multiple SIM cards.

The minister recognised the crucial role of robust tower infrastructure in enhancing mobile connectivity, fostering economic growth and driving innovation.

“The government pledged to support initiatives that promote regulatory harmonisation, expedite permit approvals, and offer long-term guarantees to inspire investor confidence and enable sustainable growth in the telecommunications sector,” Mr Nape noted.

The United States Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Michael Battle, applauded the government’s initiatives to enhance digital transformation and bridge the digital divide, particularly in rural areas. He emphasised the need for increased government investment in telecommunications services to ensure sustainability and create more opportunities for the country’s large youth population, thereby mitigating potential challenges of unemployment.

“Tanzania’s population is now about 62 million people, ac- cording to United Nations projections, and will double by 2050. Roughly almost half of the Tanzanian citizens are under the age of 18.

This is both an opportunity and a challenge. If we’re able to work well with Tanzania, with business investment and development, expanding digital utilisation, making widespread opportunities for jobs for young men and women, then the population growth will be an asset.”

In another development, Minister Nape expressed his firm commitment to cooperate with Jamii Forums, a Tanzanian social networking enterprise, in its groundbreaking initiative to increase smartphone penetration in rural areas. The forum plans to distribute ten million affordable smartphone devices to rural areas.

The minister praised the forum for providing a platform for free expression of thoughts and pledged to enhance cooperation with ministerial institutions in addressing citizens’ concerns raised through the platform.

Speaking on his initiative, the Chief Executive Officer of Jamii Forums, Mr Maxence Mello, said that the smartphone will be sold at the cheap price of 20 US dollars (about 50,000/-).

“We are working with smartphone device producers. We want to help people in rural areas to have access to the internet to make sure that they have possible access to the right information, which will help them to have freedom of expression and make informed decisions,” said Mr Mello.

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