Tanzania Telecoms


The telecom sector in Tanzania contributed 2.1% to the GDP with USD 1bn, compared to USD 513m in 2009 with an increase of almost 100%.

The growth rate was attributed to an increase in airtime used by mobile phone customers and the expansion of broadcasting and internet services in the country.

Tanzania Telecoms Regulation

The Tanzanian communications sector is governed by the Telecommunications Policy (1997), the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Policy (2003), the Information Broadcasting Policy (2003) and the Postal Policy (2003).

Telecommunications in Tanzania are regulated by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), which is a body set up by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Act (2003).

In 2015, the Government of Tanzania enacted the Cybercrimes Act and the Electronic Transactions Act.

The TCRA expects the two Acts to improve the confidence of financial institutions in ICT since the law is addressing e-services and cyber defense.

The TCRA cites banks as the prime beneficiaries of the Acts as their activities are highly dependent on ICT.

Tanzania Converged Licensing Framework (CLF)

On 23 February 2005, the TCRA introduced the CLF. The CLF ensures regulatory flexibility, addressing market and technology developments, as well as efficient utilization of network resources and encourages market entry of small scale operators.

The CLF of Tanzania establishes 4 categories of licenses as follows: Network Facilities Providers (NF), Network Service Providers (NS), Application Service Providers (AS) and Content Service Providers (CS).

The 4 authorization categories in the CLF are further divided into 4 geographic market segments: international, national, regional, and district market segment.

The licensing regime provides separate licenses for infrastructure and for services. In the previous regime services, including internet provision were licensed individually.

The CLF allows content service providers who do not own their own transmission facilities (network facilities) to deliver broadcasting services using licensed network facility operators.

According to TCRA, the CLF has been a catalyst in the development of communication network infrastructure, network services, applications and content (radio and broadcasting).

Telecommunications in Tanzania

Tanzania Voice Subscriptions

Tanzania is the second largest telecoms market in East Africa behind Kenya with a penetration of 79% of the total population in 2015 with 40m users.

In the past 5 years, landline subscriptions decreased by 22%, from 174,511 in 2010 to 142,819 in 2015, while mobile subscriptions rose by 89%, from 21m in 2010 to almost 40m in 2015.

To date, there are 7 landline and mobile operators in Tanzania: Airtel, Smart, Halotel, Tigo, Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL), Vodacom, and Zantel.

Internet Services in Tanzania

Internet services’ users in Tanzania reached 17.3m in 2015 (34% of total population), compared to only 5.3m in 2011.

The number of mobile wireless users increased significantly during 2011–2015, from 3.7m to 16.2m, accounting for more than 90% of the total number of internet users.

Smile launched Africa’s first 4G LTE broadband internet service in Tanzania, in March 2013.

Broadcasting Services in Tanzania

The number of subscribers for paid TV services in Tanzania increased from 152,216 in 2010 to almost 1m in 2014.

Accordingly, the number of sold decoders rose from 120,188 in 2010 to over 1m in 2014 with Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) accounting for around 70% of them.

The number of broadcasting service providers amounted to 46 in 2015, 25 of which are Free to Air (FTA) TV, 15 cable TV providers, 3 satellite TV providers, and 3 pay DTT.

Tanzania was the first country in Africa to start the migration from analogue to digital TV transmission in December 2012.

Opportunities for Mobile Internet Penetration in Tanzania

A new report titled “Digital Transformation in Tanzania” indicates that two-fifths of Tanzania’s population still remain offline and are excluded from the socioeconomic benefits of the internet.

The report was launched on 18th March 2019 by the GSMA, a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, and that brings together representatives from Tanzania’s three main mobile operators: Airtel, Tigo, and Vodacom.

According to the report, Tanzania mobile internet penetration has nearly quadrupled from 2010 to 2018, to reach 18.5%, with more than 8 million new mobile internet subscribers added over that period.

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

A disproportionate share of unconnected individuals come from underserved population groups, including women and those on low incomes, who still face significant barriers to mobile internet adoption.

The proportion of the population covered but not connected to a mobile broadband network is increasingly rapidly, highlighting the need to address the main consumer enablers to mobile adoption – namely, affordability, consumer readiness, and locally relevant content.

Tanzania already has one of the lowest mobile tariffs in the region, though relatively low-income levels mean mobile services still account for a significant proportion of income for many, especially the bottom 40% of the population by income.

This is why 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.

Tanzania Mobile Operators

There are 8 mobile network operators (MNOs) in Tanzania: Airtel, Smart, Smile, Halotel, Tigo, TTCL, Vodacom, and Zantel. The latest MNO to enter Tanzanian was Halotel in October 2015.

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