27 November 2012

Tanzania: Access to Smart Phones Still Low Despite ICT Growth

DESPITE high mobile penetration, access to smart phones remains extremely low, at less than 15 per cent, due to prohibitive prices.

Yet, smart phones enable users to access internet, thereby promoting the much needed development, especially in the rural areas. According to Blycroft Publishing, a global telecom market research firm, mobile phone market penetration stands at about 70 per cent across Africa, but smart phones penetration remains at between 10 and 15 per cent.

Huawei Technologies (Tanzania) Managing Director, Mr Bruce Zhang said this also applies to Tanzania despite good strides made on tele-density and investments to bridge the digital gap. 'Huawei has embraced this opportunity by bringing into the market the less than 100 US dollar (about 160,000/-) smart phones for ordinary people to enjoy broadband," Mr Zhang said on Monday.

He added: "The rapid drop in smart phone pricing will play a major role in bringing Internet connectivity to Africans (and Tanzania) over the next five to 10 years." Going by the Blycroft's data, the country's tele-density at the end of June, this year reached slightly over 28 million subscribers, meaning only 4.2 million or 15 per cent users possess smart phones.

Mr Zhang said his firm believes that the availability of cheaper mobile broadband and affordable devices will promote the development of localized applications. "(And) that will solve every day problems in the areas of agriculture, health, road safety and education, among others," Mr Zhang said in an interview.

To embark on its mission, the firm has introduced "Huawei ICT Star" which seeks to provide a platform for the Tanzania young talents to improve their ICT skills on a global level, reducing the dangers posed by the digital divide and the risk of being excluded from the knowledge economy and social development.

According to Deloitte Touche analysis, continued investment in ICT will boost the GDP of Tanzania where a 10 per cent increase in mobile penetration leads to a 1.2 per cent increase in GDP in the longrun across developing countries.

On the other hand, Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) statistics show that average expenditure on voice calls per individual dropped to 15,543/- in the three months ending June, compared to 19,641/- of the previous period. Consequently, total revenues slightly went down to 435.58bn/- in the fourth quarter compared to 529.88bn/- of the preceding period.

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