PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has warned Local Government Authorities and Public Entities providing legal permits for installing communication towers to get rid of bureaucracy.
The Head of State now wants entities responsible for issuing the permits to do so in not more than 30 days.
She issued the directive after witnessing the official signing ceremony of crucial contracts for extension of communication services in rural areas.
The contracts were signed between the Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology and five telecommunication companies, to implement a robust Digital Tanzania Project (DTP) which seeks to accelerate the country into the digital economy.
In the next 18 months the telecom companies will implement the project which seeks to increase the government and citizens’ access to high quality internet services, and to improve the government’s capacity to deliver digital public services.
The telecom companies which signed contracts with the government include Vodacom Tanzania, Airtel Tanzania, TTCL, MIC (Tigo), and Viettel (Halotel).
The contractors will put up 758 communication towers in the mainland Tanzania as well as upgrading 304 others to enable the towers which now offer 2G internet speed go up to 3G, 4G or even more.
Speaking immediately after witnessing the signing event at the well attended Dodoma’s Jakaya Kikwete Convention Centre, President Samia said she had received complaints from telecom service providers that some officials within the government were making it hard to have timely access to permits for installation of communication towers.
In her directives, Dr Samia said she does not want to hear any impediments during the implementation of the project, warning that any bureaucracy would see some officials in the public service facing the music.
“I want to see the legal permits for installation of communication towers in the signed contracts today being issued in a period of not more than one month. On June 13, 2023, I will inquire a progress report from the minister on whether there are any hurdles in acquiring these documents.”
The Head of State also directed the Rural Energy Agency (REA) to ensure that electricity is availed in all areas with communication towers so that telecom companies do not incur huge costs of pumping generators, thus increasing the cost of services especially in the purchase of bundles to cover operational costs.
“I am informed that using a generator to service one communication tower costs up to 1.8m/- per month but with electricity from the national grid, the cost goes down up to 400,000/-,” she noted, adding that despite the financial challenges REA should look on ways to supply reliable electricity to all towers.
Also, the President directed the Universal Communications Service Access Fund (UCSAF) in collaboration with the Tanzania Rural and Urban Road Agency (TARURA) to make sure that areas where telecommunication towers are installed are accessible so that when it comes to communication services in Tanzania, no one is left behind.
She further directed telecom companies that signed the contracts to ensure that the undertakings are completed on time, with adherence to quality and agreed specifications.
Speaking at the event, UCSAF Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Justina Mashiba said that initially, her institution had floated tender for installation of towers in 763 wards, but it came out that the telecom companies won tenders in 713 wards of the mainland Tanzania where 758 towers will be installed.
At the event, the World Bank was represented by the bank’s representative for Tanzania, Malawi Zambia and Zimbabwe, Mr Nathan Belete who expressed his commitment to continue working with the Tanzanian government, in joint efforts to attaining the envisaged digital economy.