TANZANIA is set to become a communication hub for the East, Central and Southern Africa region with the strengthening of the National Fibre Optic Cable network in and outside the country.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology, Dr Florens Turuka, said in Dar es Salaam over the weekend that the National Fibre Optic Cable is now connected to all regional headquarters in Tanzania Mainland and some district headquarters.
Already, the National Fibre Optic Cable has been connected with undersea fibre optic cable systems of SEACOM and the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy). Plans are underway to connect it with The East African Marine System (TEAMS).
Dr Turuka said seven telecommunication companies are connected to the National Fibre Optic Cable, namely Airtel Tanzania, Infinitty, Simbanet, Tigo Tanzania, Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL), Vodacom Tanzania and Zantel.
He said that the government through his ministry and TTCL has already built a 7,560 kilometres fibre optic cable. These include new 5,448 kilometres built by the company and 2,112 kilometres built by TANESCO along the main national grid ways.
He added that the national fibre optic cable has enabled other countries' cable networks or communication systems to take advantage of it and connect.
The countries are Kenya through (Namanga, Sirari and Horohoro), Rwanda (Rusumo), Burundi (Kabanga), Malawi (Kasumulu), Zambia (Tunduma), Uganda (Mutukula) and Msumbiji (Mtambaswala).
Also telecommunication companies from neighbouring countries have been connected in the national fibre optic cable and these include MTL (Malawi), MTN (Zambia), MTN, RDB, Airtel, KDN, RwandaTel and BCS (Rwanda), UCOM and ECONET (Burundi).
Dr Turuka said the advent of the fibre optic network has helped in facilitating communication in the financial, education, health, agriculture, commerce and tourism sectors.
He explained that because of conducive environment to develop the communication sector, private sector entities in the country have ventured in building metro networks to better utilise the national fibre optic cable in offering communication services.
Citing as an example, he said already the Dar es Salaam metro network covering 90 kilometers has been completed and started to be used. It is expected that other metro networks in Arusha, Mwanza, Dodoma, Morogoro and Mbeya will be built in the future.
According to the Ministry, the sector has been growing at an average of 21 per cent for five consecutive years up to 2011 compared to other sectors. The contribution of the sector to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown from 1.7 per cent in 2005 to 2.7 per cent in 2009.
Statistics shows that over 50 per cent Tanzanians now use telephones compared to only 3 per cent a few years back. Also, the number of internet users has grown from an average of 25,000 users in 1999 to 4,800,000 in 2012.