Tanzania’s TTCL enters the crowded mobile money market
The government has actively embraced competition in the telecom market, and has encouraged the private sector. Foreign participation has also been encouraged to promote economic growth and social development. Policy reforms have led to the telecom sector becoming among the most liberal in Africa. However, high import tariffs on telecoms equipment and taxes on telephone facilities by various authorities are still placing a burden on investors and operators.
Tanzania has two fixed-line operators (TTCL and Zantel) and eight operational mobile networks, with four additional players licensed under a new converged regulatory regime. With four major operators – Vodacom, Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain), Tigo and Zantel – mobile penetration has broached 80%. In recent years a price war among these players has adversely affected the smaller operators, which have suffered from customer churn.
The converged licensing regime has brought a large number of new players into the market. The liberalisation of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephony as well as the introduction of third and fourth generation (3G, 4G) mobile services and wireless broadband networks is boosting the internet sector which has been hampered by the low level of development of the traditional fixed-line network.
Following the launch of 3G and LTE mobile broadband services, the mobile networks have become the leading internet service providers. Operators are hoping for revenue growth in the mobile data services market, given that the voice market is almost entirely prepaid and voice ARPU continues to fall. To this end they have invested in network upgrades. A fast developing source of revenue is from mobile money transfer and m-banking services.
The landing of the first fibre optic international submarine cables in the country in recent years has revolutionised the market which up to that point entirely depended on expensive satellite connections. In parallel, the government has switched on the first phase of a national fibre backbone network to connect population centres around the country. However, the cost of international internet bandwidth has so far not come down by as much and not as quickly as expected.
The government has become more determined to manage the telecom sector more effectively. It has cracked down on counterfeit smartphones, which were thought to account for up to 30% of devices in circulation at the start of the campaign, while in early 2016 the telecom regulator’s board was dismissed after it had failed to update the Telecommunications Traffic Monitoring System (TTMS). This system was expected to deliver up to TZS400 billion to the government annually.
Market penetration rates in Tanzania’s telecoms sector – 2015 (e)
|Mobile SIM (population)|
- TTCL enters m-money market;
- Smile launches VoLTE services;
- ISP UhuruOne piggybacking on Tigo’s LTE network;
- Tanzanian MNOs achieve full m-money interoperability;
- Tigo secures stake in Helios Towers;
- Regulator planning multi-spectrum auction to boost mobile broadband use and develop an emergency service mobile network;
- Smile Communications contracts Ericsson to manage LTE infrastructure;
- Government signs MoU for final phase of the national backbone network;
- Phase 2B USF contracts awarded;
- Government agrees to buy back a 35% stake in TTCL from Bharti Airtel, for TZS14.6 billion;
- Millicom acquires Etisalat’s 85% stake in Zantel;
- Low ARPU encouraging mobile operators to develop mobile data and commerce services;
- Regulator sets voice interconnection rates to 2017;
- Government allocates TZS17.5 billion ($10.8 million) to improve rural telecom infrastructure;
- Smile Communications trials VoLTE services;
- Government cracks down on counterfeit smartphones;
- TTCL opens a new microwave link connecting Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, doubling data capacity;
- Telecom regulator’s board dismissed;
- Report update includes regulator’s market data to March 2016, operator data to Q1 2016, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Tanzania Telecommunications Company (TTCL); Zanzibar Telecommunications Corporation (Zantel); Vodacom Tanzania; Bharti Airtel (Zain); Millicom (Tigo); Benson Informatics Limited (BOL); Sasatel (Dovetel); Africa Online; Raha.com; Tele2; Alink; SatCom Networks; SimbaNet; Afsat; Cats-Net.