Tanzania opens its doors to 5G investments

By Alex Nelson Malanga

Dar es Salaam. The government is now ready to allow investment in trials of the 5th generation (5G) network – the fastest ever – as efforts gear up to grow the digital economy.

Minister of Information, Communications and Information Technology, Mr Nape Nnauye, who tabled his budget for the financial year 2022/23, said the doors were now open to investors willing and able to invest in 5G technology.

The move was a sigh of relief for companies like Vodacom, which was quoted in 2020 as saying it was aiming to invest in 5G technology. It was just waiting for regulatory approval before it could start investing in 5G.

The government yesterday invited investors who wanted to invest in 5G technology to submit their applications. On how to apply, the minister said the proper procedures will soon be made public.

However, he said, the government, through the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), was ready to offer spectrum to service providers who were ready for 5G trials.

“This (spectrum offering) process will be transparent and competitive,” Nnauye told Dodoma.

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“We invite those interested in investing in 5G technology for trials.”

He highlighted that the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things and blockchain are important for building sustainable cities.

“All of this requires a solid infrastructure for fast internet. The use of 5G will pave the way for the digital economy revolution,” he noted.

He said the government will maintain momentum when it comes to creating an enabling environment for investors to invest in internet infrastructure to expand the reach of coverage.

“This is important for the country to achieve its target of 80% coverage of Tanzanians with fast internet by 2025,” Mr Nnauye said.

In another development, the Parliamentary Infrastructure Committee yesterday instructed the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) to meet with telecom operators to address citizens’ complaints against telecom operators over package-related issues.

Recently, telco customers had raised concerns about changes to plan prices, with others complaining that they were not informed of the new payments.

In the changes, it was reported that telecom companies had shaken up bundled packages by reducing the size of packages for the same amount of money or increasing the amount of money for the same amount.

Various users expressed their anger on social media, with some seeking comment from the responsible authority.

“It is high time that the TCRA sat down with the telecommunications companies to address the issue of group complaints,” reads the committee’s speech to parliament yesterday.

Presenting the budget for his role, Minister Nnauye asked the House to approve some 282.06 billion shillings for his ministry, an amount slightly higher than the current fiscal year of 246.38 billion shillings which had was approved for the then Ministry of ICT.

255.77 billion shillings would be for development expenditure, with the rest for recurrent expenditure.

Of the amount earmarked for development, 215.8 billion shillings will come from local sources and the remaining 40 billion shillings will come from external sources.

The construction of the national fiber optic cable network named National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) is expected to take the lion’s share of the money set aside for development projects – 149.7 billion shillings.

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