Tanzania’s mobile market enjoys effective competition, though the fixed-line sector remains largely controlled by the incumbent telco TTCL, which has struggled to gain subscribers. The company came under renewed government scrutiny in early 2023, which stimulated further investment in network infrastructure and upgrades.
The government has encouraged foreign participation to promote economic growth and social development, and policy reforms have led to the country having one of the most liberal telecom sectors in Africa. The government has also sought to increase broadband penetration by a range of measures, including the reduction in VAT charged on the sale of smartphones and other devices, and reductions in the cost of data. Public opposition to a controversial tax on m-money transactions forced the government in mid-2022 to reduce charges.
The MNOs became the leading ISPs following the launch of mobile broadband services based on 3G and LTE technologies. Services based on 5G were launched in mid-2022 by Tigo and Vodacom as these operators hoped to generate revenue growth in the mobile data services market, given that the voice market is almost entirely prepaid, and voice ARPU continues to fall. The MNOs have collectively invested in network upgrades, which in turn has supported mobile data use, as well as in m-money transfer services and m-banking services. Together, these have become a fast-developing source of revenue. In addition, the MNOs have undertaken commitments to build towers aimed at serving areas of the country which lack connectivity as part of a wider national broadband program.
The landing of the first international submarine cables in the country some years ago revolutionised the telecom market, which up to that point had entirely depended on expensive satellite connections. Liquid Intelligent Technologies recently completed a terrestrial cable network linking the East and West coasts of Africa, with an important terminus at Dar es Salaam linking to three submarine cables. In parallel, the government aims to complete a national fibre backbone network, having signed an agreement by which the incumbent telco TTC can make use of the infrastructure of the national electric supply company Tanesco, and so extend broadband availability to 94% of the country.
The government continues to invest in the national backbone network, aiming to have 15,000km in service by the end of 2023, and to provide ongoing connectivity to more countries in the region.
Domestically, Vodacom Tanzania contracted Eutelsat to provide satellite broadband services to areas of Tanzania which lack connectivity, while Starlink has also applied for a license to deliver satellite broadband.
Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation (TTC), Zanzibar Telecommunications Corporation (Zantel), Vodacom Tanzania; Bharti Airtel (Zain), Millicom (Tigo), Benson Informatics (BOL), Sasatel (Dovetel), Africa Online, Raha.com, Tele2, Alink, SatCom Networks, SimbaNet, Afsat, Cats-Net
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