4 January 2019

Tanzania: State Works for Efficient Communication Sector

THE government has reaffirmed its commitment to see the communication sector contributing up to 16 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The government is also determined to provide improved telecommunications services in the peripherals and hard to reach areas, countrywide.

Top officials in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications made the commitment here shortly after touring the communications troubled areas in Mwanza region's Buchosa District, recently.

Deputy Minister Atashasta Nditiye and Deputy Permanent Secretary Dr Jim Yonaz said the ministry was working on a number of modalities to have all the peripheral areas, including Islands, across the country adequately served with reliable communications.

Mr Nditiye issued a onemonth notice to Tanzania Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) and Universal Communication Services Access Fund (UCSAF) to solve the emerging challenges that had delayed supply of communications in Maisome Island in Buchosa District.

"We are determined to see all the country connected to reliable communications to improve lives but also boost the economy of the people in the areas that currently miss the services or get poor services," said the Deputy Minister.

He said the areas reported with communication itches were facing a number of challenges citing Maisome Island whose major parts were reserved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism but had no telecommunications services at all.

He directed for Dr Yonaz to meet his counterpart in the natural resource ministry to solve the underlying wrangles that have impeded communication companies from erecting communications towers, leaving over 10,000 residents totally isolated.

Apart from Maisome Island, communication problems were also noted at Bupandwa village in the district where many areas had poor communication signals with the disappointed Deputy Minister describing the situation as unhealthy for the wellbeing of the people and economy.

Dr Yonaz said there was every reason for the communications sector to grow and contribute adequately to the national income. He said lately the sector has contributed only 13 per cent to GDP and that efforts are underway to raise the contribution to at least 16 per cent.

"We have made this tour to get the true image on the state of communications in peripheral areas like this and it is our commitment that the situation should improve and ensure all residents have access to reliable communications," he noted.

TCRA Board Chairman Dr Jones Kilimbe made the similar commitment, promising to push for the authority to act instantly on the challenges that have been addressed. He said TCRA board was carrying out thorough evaluation on the state of communications ready for action, calling for close collaboration with UCSAF and other strategic agencies.

UCSAF Head of Operations Albert Richard said so far 94 per cent of the country is covered with reliable communications while the remaining six per cent has projects at different stages of installing communication towers. Many communications companies were now willing to work in villages and other difficult areas, said Mr Richard.

Using statistics, Mr Richard said in 2012 when the first tenders were floated only 52 wards attracted the service providers out of advertised 152 wards. But in the same exercise in June last year out of 218 advertised lots in rural areas, 173 lots attracted service providers.

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