According to a recent report in the Daily News, President Jakaya Kikwete has instructed that a task force be created in order to speed up the process of construction on the national Information Communication Technology (ICT) backbone, thus enhancing the Tanzania telecoms sector and lowering the overall cost of ICT application.
The construction of this facility will aid in the reduction of mobile phone tariffs and also help to speed up the overall social and economic development of the country.
According to a statement that was issued by the State House, the estimated cost for the construction of the ICT backbone will reach approximately Tshs 239.4 billion, or USD 180 million.
Tanzania is expected to receive financial support for the project from the Chinese government.
In a meeting that was held earlier this week in Dar es Salaam between senior officials with the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology, it was decided that the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) would be the leading force in the creation of the ICT backbone.
“Let this ICT backbone not only reduce tariffs for mobile phones,” said President Kikwete, “this is a good thing but it has broader use for the benefit of our economy and the development of the country.”
In addition, the government of Tanzania has promised to accelerate the process of creating laws for the supervision and regulation of mobile phone and internet usage so as to help reduce the rising cases of cyber crime.
The TTCL was partially privatized approximately eight years ago; however, the government of Tanzania currently owns a 65 per cent stake in the company.
Based on the number of SIM cards that have been sold, the number of Tanzanians who own a mobile phone within the country is currently approximately 10 million people, which is a dramatic increase from the 150,000 subscribers that the sector had in 2001.
According to these statistics, the mobile phone industry is responsible for the generation of approximately Tshs 660 billion in government revenue over the past nine years.
At the same time, the government has also pledged to help strengthen the TTCL in part by including giving guarantees for loans from various local financial institutions, which will, in turn, help the company to acclimate to the ever-increasing competition within the sector.
To this end, the government has agreed to absorb the debts of the TTCL in order to allow the company to securely acquire these loans and effectively compete in the technologically advanced industry.