Tanzania has a fully competitive mobile sector comprising four networks and two fixed-line operators, but market penetration is still very low. A new converged licensing regime introduced in 2006 has brought a large number of new players into the market. The liberalisation of VoIP telephony as well as the introduction of 3G mobile services and wireless broadband networks is also expected to provide a boost to the Internet sector which has been hampered by the low level of development of the traditional fixed-line network.
Tanzania had a 15% Internet penetration rate by the end of 2014. The SEACOM and the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System submarine fiber cable projects had brought higher speed Internet connectivity to Tanzania in 2009 with lower latency and lower cost. This resulted in more than an eight-fold improvement in download speeds from between 90 and 200 kbit/s in mid to late 2008 to between 1.5 and 1.8 Mbit/s in late 2009 with further improvements to between 3.6 and 4.2 Mbit/s in 2013.
Recent reforms made the Tanzanian telecom markets one of 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. There are two fixed-line operators (TTCL and Zantel) and eight operational mobile networks, with four additional players licensed under a new converged regulatory regime. Mobile penetration recently reached 80%. As for Internet connectivity, 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. However, the cost of international internet bandwidth has so far not come down by as much and not as quickly as expected. The telecom regulator in Tanzania is Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).
Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest economies in terms of per capita income, but has achieved high growth rates based on its vast natural resource wealth and tourism. GDP growth in 2009-15 was an impressive 6-7% per year. Dar es Salaam used fiscal stimulus measures and easier monetary policies to lessen the impact of the global recession. Tanzania has largely completed its transition to a market economy, though the government retains a presence in sectors such as telecommunications, banking, energy, and mining. The economy depends mostly on agriculture, which accounts for more than one-quarter of GDP. The financial sector in Tanzania has expanded in recent years and foreign-owned banks account for about 48% of the banking industry’s total assets. Competition among foreign commercial banks has resulted in significant improvements in the efficiency and quality of financial services, though interest rates are still relatively high, reflecting high fraud risk. Recent banking reforms have helped increase private-sector growth and investment.
The World Bank, the IMF, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania’s aging infrastructure, including rail and port, that provide important trade links for inland countries.
Tanzania Telecommunications Company Ltd. (TTCL) is the oldest and largest fixed-line telecommunications company in Tanzania. TTCL was wholly owned by the Government of Tanzania until the partial privatization of the company in 2001. TTCL provides voice and data communication services to over 300,000 business and residential customers in Tanzania. The company also provides network services to other licensed telecom operators. TTCL’s aim is to remain the leading Fixed Network Operator in Tanzania.
RELEVANT INTERNET EXCHANGE POINTS
TIX – Dar Es Salaam
AIXP – Arusha