Tanzania keeps pace with technological advancements

DODOMA: IN a bid to ensure that Tanzania remains at the forefront of the digital era, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has reiterated its commitment to fulfilling its mandate by focusing on enhancing and advancing the digital revolution, digital literacy and inclusion.

Marking the 46th anniversary of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) recently, TCRA Director General Dr Jabiri Bakari acknowledged Tanzania’s significant progress in expanding access to telecommunications and ICT services.

He reaffirmed TCRA’s unwavering commitment to regulating the communications sector and enabling the achievement of the government’s digital revolution goals.

“TCRA also facilitates the inclusion of marginalised groups through enhanced SIM card registration processes, where citizens are assured of registration to embrace digital services, including mobile financial services,” he insisted.

As of September 2023, Bakari said Tanzania had about 67.1 million active registered SIM cards. Comparing this with a population of 61.7 million as per the 2022 census, this makes the overall penetration of 109 per cent, meaning that there are 109 subscriptions per 100 people in Tanzania by September 2023.

The communication sector regulatory executive emphasised that this year’s ATU theme, “Towards a Digital Revolution and Inclusion of the Marginalised: Addressing Accessibility Factors,” underscores the importance of ensuring universal access to the benefits of the digital revolution and inclusion. TCRA, as a member of ATU, will remain firm in fulfilling its mandate to ensure citizens are well-served with communication services.

“The industry has witnessed the growth of digital financial inclusion services. As of September 2023, the mobile money subscriptions had reached 51.4 million users, constituting 76.6 percent of the total registered active SIM cards. The enhanced SIM card registration processes have also added SIM card registration procedures for visitors above the age of 65 or with defective fingerprints that experience challenges when capturing biometric information,” he said.

Enhanced Digital Literacy

Ensuring the youth’s proficiency in digital technology, DG Bakari envisions “a future where no one is left behind,” adding, “our vision extends beyond connectivity; it encompasses empowering individuals through digital literacy and skills development.” Bakari explained that they are spearheading the establishment of digital clubs in schools and colleges in collaboration with all stakeholders. These clubs will foster ICT awareness, cultivate opportunities for ICT skill development, promote responsible digital citizenship, and contribute to the advancement of digital Tanzania.

Regarding the enhanced adaptation of rapidly changing digital technology landscapes, the DG is optimistic that his regulatory body will not be left behind, and neither will Tanzania.

“TCRA understands the necessity of adapting to the emergence of new technologies in the sector, such as 5G, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, big data analytics, and edge computing. Therefore, it creates an environment that fosters innovation while ensuring compliance with regulatory standards,” he insisted.

The DG further discussed the release of the IMT multi-band frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2600 MHz, and 3500 MHz bands on October 11th, 2022, through auctioning. He said it has enabled service providers to broaden communication services in the country, facilitating the rollout of 5G technology services to different parts of Tanzania and enhancing the penetration of the latest digital communication technologies.

Established in 2003 under TCRA Act number 12, the Regulatory Authority is tasked with regulating the communications sector in Tanzania. Its purview encompasses telecommunications and internet services, broadcasting and online journalism, and postal services, including courier operators.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, TCRA actively participates in various regional and international communication bodies, including ITU, ATU, PAPU, CTO, UPU, EACO and CRASA, to ensure collaboration in developing and implementing regional and international sector regulatory frameworks, ensuring that Tanzania remains at the forefront of communications advancements through TCRA’s technical representation.

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