About a week ago, Mwanza Region business stakeholders enjoyed 480 minutes of surfing the internet for free, using their mobile phones, tablets, iPhones and laptops, among other devices, thanks to generosity by the Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL).
Over 300 participants who thronged the Rock City Shopping Mall to attend the much publicized Mwanza Business Forum sighed with relief as they experienced the 4GLTE high-speed internet, saving their internet bundles on their mobile phones.
Participants started arriving at the venue as early as 8:00am. As they entered the forum's hall, little did they know that they would save their internet bundles. However, before kicking off the business forum officially, the MC informed them that they were free to subscribe to a free WIFI offered by TTCL that had the highest speed of all other networks.
As the delegates waited for the official opening of the forum by chief guest Mwanza Regional Commissioner (RC) John Mongella, everyone was busy on their mobile phone, freely browsing from one site to another.
Reporters covering the function did not have to worry how quick they could get back to their newsrooms to file their stories, as they could do it right from the conference room.
The Mwanza business forum was organised by the Tanzania Standard Newspapers (TSN) in collaboration with other business partners, including, inter alia, the National Microfinance Bank (NMB), Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), TIB Development Bank, TIB Corporate Bank, Tanzania Postal Bank (TPB), LAPF Pension Fund, Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL), Victoria Palace Hotel and the Rock City Shopping Mall.
Others were the Medical Stores Department (MSD), Watumishi Housing Company (WHC), National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the National Economic Empowerment Council, among others.
This day-long session drew various presentations on trade, business and investment where, after the papers, over 20 stakeholders raised 'red flags' on at least 30 issues with regard to improving trade and investment within Mwanza Region - eliciting heated debate, with the irrigation agriculture getting the spotlight.
In his presentation that drew a lot of attention from participants, TTCL Head of Business Unit in the Lake Zone, Mr Karim Bablia said it was high time, Tanzanians chose to subscribe to TTCL if they wanted the fastest internet that could help promote their business.
He insisted that investors coming to Mwanza should choose to subscribe with TTCL because the telecom company has already put a friendly environment for investors especially with the establishment of a 4GLTE.
"Telecommunication is the fastest changing market, but we in TTCL do not want to bind ourselves we want also especially in Mwanza to supply telecommunication devices.
In what appears to be yet another opportunity for freelancers, Mr Bablia told participants that whoever brings a customer who purchases a TTCL SIM card in Mwanza, stands a chance to walk out with 1,500/- and that customer would be entitled to free phone calls with TTCL mobile phone subscribers, free 200 messages, free 200MB and another free 1,000/- that a customer can use to call to other mobile phone networks, at a cost of one shilling and seventeen cents for a minute.
The TTCL Head of Business Unit in the Lake Zone received kudos from participants when he said he was seeking agents for debt collection, selling SIM cards, air time and that mobile money was also in the offing, adding that he was looking for agents as it would soon be in the market.
In protecting the TTCL turbines and infrastructures from vandals, Mr Bablia said anyone who reveals the names of hooligans tampering with the state-owned telecommunication infrastructure would be awarded 300,000/-- and, this will also be awarded to police officers who arrests the offenders.
"I shall award 300,000/- for every event, be it a police officer or any member of the army, or any civilian who volunteers information leading to the arrest of the offenders, I shall pay instantly, he said amid cheers from participants from the floor.
Statistics from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) show that the number of mobile phone subscribers in the country rose by 25 per cent in 2015 to 39.8 million in the telecom industry. Like in other African countries, mobile phone use has surged in Tanzania over the past decade, with the help of the launch of cheaper Smartphone.
The number of Internet users rose 52 per cent to 17.26 million last year from 2014, the state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) said in a statement. Communications is the fastest- growing sector in East Africa's second-largest economy, which has a population of more than 47 million people.
At the business forum, Mr Bablia said already TTCL had put up the Internet Data Centre (IDC) and data storage and back up, virtual servers, "With IDC we have three generators of 900KVA which are on standby to ensure that there is no power outage, in case Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO)'s power goes off, and we have enough Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). IDC has state-of-the-art infrastructure that provides high quality database hosting services to government and business institutions.
It offers cost-effective alternative to those who host their servers abroad, as well. The national internet data centre in Dar es Salaam is among three centres earmarked. Others are due for construction in Dodoma and Zanzibar, thanks to a 93.7 million US dollars financial support from Exim Bank of China that will also be used for IP network and extension of the fibre optic cable.
The centre which is on 3,050 square meter space has 184 telecommunication racks and 1,010 server space. It provides a network platform for Big Data, Cloud Computing, Data Mining and other similar data services. The successful Mwanza business forum provided an opportunity to over 300 participants to identify and utilize the business opportunities offered by TTCL.
Mr Bablia said investors coming to Mwanza should have no doubt when they want to have the efficient communications in the country including the fastest internet services with the State-of the art telecom company.