THE Universal Communications Service Access Fund (UCSAF) has signed a contract with Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) to provide a subsidy of 6.10 million US dollars (about 9.8bn/-) to build a network to provide communication services in rural areas.
The agreement was signed by UCSAF Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Peter Ulanga and TTCL Principal Marketing and Sales Officer, Mr Peter Ngota, in Dar es Salaam on Friday.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Eng. Ulanga said that TTCL won a tender for the extension and provision of telecommunications services to 33 underserved wards in the country.
"UCSAF was established to promote universal access to information and communications technology in the country," he said . He said that the government has finalized two universal communication service access tenders in which under phase 1A tender, a total of over 1,300,000 people in 168 wards and 936 villages are going to benefit, while phase 1B tender will benefit 760,000 people in 77 wards and 489 villages.
Eng. Ulanga further said that more than 274,000 people in 202 villages from 15 regions are expected to benefit from the project and they will get communication services. The Minister for Communication, Science and Technology, Prof Makame Mbarawa, urged other service providers to consider participating in bidding for communication tenders to provide services in rural and underserved areas.
"The government will soon advertise the second phase tender to provide communication services to the remaining villages, it is important that other service providers be more active in the coming phase," he said.
Prof. Mbarawa said that although there are challenges as some areas have poor topography and not easily accessible, the government still values the contribution provided by other service providers. Earlier, Mr Ngota said that construction of the network in this project is scheduled to be completed within eight months.
"We will begin with basic communication services including voice communication, text messaging and the internet," he said. Improving communication services in rural areas is a national project aimed at enhancing communication services in those areas.
The project is funded by the World Bank through UCSAF and is under the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology.