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Mobile network subscriptions in Tanzania reached 51 million at the end of 2020. In 2019, mobile market revenues were estimated at USD 1.1 billion (TZS 2,703 billion), and the sector accounted for 1.9% of Tanzania’s GDP.

However, given that hat most subscribers have more than one Sim card, the number of unique subscribers was 25 million with a unique-subscriber penetration of 41%, and a large proportion of the population (59%) remains unconnected to the mobile network.

Tanzania Mobile Internet

The unique-subscriber penetration of mobile internet in Tanzania is low at 18%, less than Kenya (27%), Uganda (23%), and Sub-Saharan Africa (26%).

Barriers to using mobile internet include affordability, lack of awareness, illiteracy, and lack of digital skills.

However, British technology research firm Cable estimates that the average cost of one mobile gigabyte (1GB) in Tanzania is USD 0.75, making the country the 32nd cheapest in the world, and the cheapest in East Africa.

Tanzania Mobile Network Operators 

There are seven mobile network operators (MNOs) in Tanzania: Vodacom (30.5% market share), Airtel (27%), Tigo (25.4%), Halotel (13.3%), Zantel (2%), TTCL (1.7%), and Smile (0.02%).

So far, mobile operators have invested around USD 2.6 billion in Tanzania. Investments are primarily focused on network infrastructure which is driving mobile broadband coverage expansion.

Tanzania Mobile Internet Network: 4G/3G/2G Services

Tanzania’s mobile internet penetration has nearly quadrupled from 2010 to 2018, to reach 18.5%, with more than eight million new mobile internet subscribers added over that period.

Despite this growth, two-fifths of the country’s population still remain offline and excluded from the socio-economic benefits of the internet, and around a fifth of the population, representing 11 million people, are not covered by a mobile broadband network.

The most common broadband service in Tanzania is given through 2G connections, which offers a speed of up to 0.3 Mbps and is used by 90% of the mobile subscribers in Tanzania.

At the end of 2018, 3G and 4G networks covered around 61% and 28% of Tanzania’s population respectively.

Digital Tanzania Program

The World Bank (WB) sponsored the Digital Tanzania Program which aims to assist the country to harness its digital potential and ensure that all citizens have access to high-quality, low-cost connectivity, that public services are easily accessible online, and that the digital economy is driving growth, innovation, and job creation.

The Program will be delivered in two phases:

Phase I (2018–2022) will focus on strengthening Tanzania’s core Digital Foundations – closing the connectivity gap, increasing market competitiveness and investment, and strengthening digitally enabled service delivery infrastructure and capacity within the government.

Phase II (2021–2026) will focus on Tanzania’s digital acceleration – leveraging improved connectivity and enhanced capacity for public digital service delivery to accelerate the growth of the digital economy, encourage private and public innovation utilizing digital technology, and support the expansion of digital public services offerings across key sectors.

Phases I and II will involve significant collaboration with other stakeholders, including mobile operators and the private sector.

Latest Update: 27th April 2021

Sources: GSMA, Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), World Bank (WB)