Worldwide mobile operators association GSMA launched the Tanzania Rural Connectivity Project on July 26th 2016 to expand mobile broadband network coverage across the country.
The project is the first active infrastructure sharing initiative in East Africa between mobile network operators (MNOs) Airtel, Millicom (Tigo) and Vodacom.
The mobile operators have committed to launch 6 3G pilot sites across Tanzania to test the sustainable provision of mobile broadband services to 13m people living in rural Tanzania.
The agreement is the result of a year-long collaboration between GSMA, the 3 local operators and the Government of Tanzania.
“This cooperation between the Tanzanian MNOs demonstrates that the industry is committed to connecting the unconnected – particularly the millions living in rural areas – and enabling them to gain access to essential internet services,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA during the Mobile 360 Africa conference taking place in Dar es Salaam between 28 and 29th July 2016.
“We don’t stop until every Tanzanian is connected”, said Ian Ferrao, Managing Director at Vodacom Tanzania.
Tanzania Mobile Connectivity
As of the end of 2015, there were over 17m individual mobile subscribers in Tanzania, accounting for 34m connections across the country, according to GSMA.
However, Tanzania’s population of 49m people is widely dispersed, with 69% of the population living in rural regions.
Operators have so far been able to deploy their 2G networks to up to 85% of the Tanzanian population, while 3G network deployment is mostly limited to urban areas, resulting in only 35% of the population being covered and able to access the mobile internet.
“[…] Building on the 17m [Tanzanian] citizens who currently access the internet, this initiative will focus on the remaining 13m citizens in Tanzania yet to be connected to the internet,” Granryd commented.
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem.
These include handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organizations in close industry sectors.