The director general of the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), John Nkoma, says he expects the country will be home to 13 million fixed and mobile telephone connections by mid-2009, up 25% on the figure reported in mid-2008, with much of the growth coming from cellular connections. Nkoma notes that telecoms is one of the fastest growing segments in the country, increasing subscribers by 20.1% in 2007, up from 19.2% the previous year. The TCRA official notes that barely four years ago Tanzania could only muster two million fixed and mobile lines. ‘We do expect that by the end of this year, we should be hitting maybe 10.5 million or eleven million [subscribers]. It’s largely driven by mobile,’ he said. By 30 June 2008 Tanzania had a total of 10.43 million fixed and mobile users, up from 8.48 million at the start of the year. However, with overall penetration of about 25%, the TCRA says there is still ample room for growth in the market, making it an attractive prospect for new entrants.
Last week the TCRA issued new licences to two local companies, Egotel and MyCell, for fixed line and mobile networks, among other services. The regulator has also granted Zain Tanzania a concession to deploy an international gateway in the country. Zain is investing USD180 million on its Tanzanian networks and joins four other firms licensed to operate international gateway services. Meanwhile, another company, Smile Communications Tanzania, 65%-owned by Mauritius’ Smile Telecoms Holdings, has an application pending to enter the telecoms sector in the future, while recently licensed HITS Telecom Tanzania and Dovetel, are also in the process of rolling out their networks, Nkoma said.