PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan on Thursday expressed the government’s determination to expand the use of advanced technology in the information sector, so as to reach a large audience.
Dr Samia also unveiled intentions for Tanzania to develop its own satellite that will strengthen the country’s capability to improve the information sector.
Speaking at the launch of Azam Media Limited Company’s Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) project in Dar es Salaam, President Samia commended the company for adopting innovation in transmission to ensure high quality television accessibility to all Tanzanians at affordable prices.
In light of the ongoing reforms that have been implemented since this company was established ten years ago, Dr Samia added, “I thank the local investor Said Salim Bakhresa for the enormous investment he made in the information and broadcasting sector.”
The Head of State said that looking to assist these initiatives, the government intends to develop its own satellite, revealing that negotiations have already started, and a National Space Agency will also be established.
Last year, Uganda developed the first ever satellite PearlAfricaSat-1a satellite by Ugandans Edgar Mujuni, Bonny Omara, and Derrick Tebusweke.
Azam Media Limited trading as Azam TV rolled out the pay-tv service via satellite in 2013; the event also marked their 10th anniversary.
DTT is a technology for terrestrial television in which, land-based (terrestrial) television stations broadcast television content by radio waves to televisions in consumers’ residences in a digital format.
According to President Samia, DTT makes Tanzania the first country in East Africa to have the network equipped with 5G capable broadcast transmitters at its sites. The technology allows live media content streaming to 5G smartphones without the need of a sim card.
DTT project has cost Azam Media Group 50bn/-, where 21 towers have been built in Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Arusha, Mara, Shinyanga, Geita, Simiyu, Mwanza, Kigoma, Tabora, Singida, Dodoma, Mbeya, Morogoro, Rukwa, Mtwara, Lindi, Ruvuma and Njombe regions.
Dr Samia further said that was a very huge investment for the nation that goes hand in hand with the implementation of the CCM manifesto, article 125 which directs the government to ensure that the information sector is improved in order to increase the opportunity for the public by increasing the scope of information sharing.
“Last week I launched the construction of 758 telecommunication towers that will be built by mobile companies in the country, 300 towers will be upgraded from 2G to 3G and 4G but the biggest thing about the new towers is that they will accommodate 5G,” she said.
She added: “New towers are being constructed, but there are already old towers in the country. Now, I wonder if there isn’t a technology to integrate them, so that several companies can use one tower rather than having many towers in one place. Let’s work now to find technology to that end.”
Regarding the freedom of expression, President Samia said apart from the fact that the media are free to say and write what they want, the important thing is to follow the customs, traditions and the laws of the country.
She insisted that for the freedom of expression to have meaning, it is crucial for the media to have its own means of generating income, instead of relying on the government or other sponsors.
“The government will continue to create an enabling environment to ensure that the information sector continues to grow in terms of broadcasting technologies,” she noted and called for more creativity.
Earlier, Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Mr Nape Nnauye said the media industry has continued to grow, whereby until April 2023, there were 218 radio stations from 210 in 2022, television stations increased from 56 to 68, cable television 57, online TV 413, newspapers from 284 to 321.
“Among other things, we have worked on the review of the Media Service Act 2016 to be discussed in parliament next month, we have also reviewed the advertising regulations where we have reviewed the fees including online media services for news and current affairs,” he said.
Azam Media Limited Chief Executive Officer Tido Mhando said the day was important to them because they commemorate the 10th anniversary since the establishment of Azam TV, where they have achieved great success starting from the beginning with the Direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting service and currently they have several products.
“Some of the challenges we are experiencing is the withholding tax of 15 per cent on the service of obtaining content from artists, sportsmen and individuals, this procedure makes us local investors buy content at a much higher price than foreign companies that do business like ours.”