Tanzanian newspaper The Daily News reports that Mozambique’s third mobile operator Movitel is in talks with the people responsible for building Tanzania’s National Information Communications Technology Broadband Backbone infrastructure (NICTBB), with the aim of having the link extended to reach the country’s border. The NICTBB from the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam reaches Mtwara, but Movitel wants the government of Tanzania to extend coverage the remaining distance towards the border so that the cellco can secure a back-up for its existing operations in Mozambique. The NICTBB technical coordinator, Aninta Chingumbe, reportedly told the Daily News: ‘that the two are negotiating and that a feasibility study has been carried out in the area’. Ms Chingumbe went on to say that the discussions centre on how Mozambique could be connected from the Umoja bridge at Mtambasawala on the border with Tanzania. ‘The talks may result in a deal,’ she said. It is understood that Movitel’s interest in the plan was piqued after state-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) signed a USD6.7 million, ten-year deal to supply 1.244GB of internet bandwidth to Rwanda. The contract, the first signed by a member of the East African Community (EAC) with another EAC member state, was made possible using the international submarine cable systems EASSy and SEACOM. Following the signing of the TTCL deal, it is believed that other landlocked countries in the region – including Zambia, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi – may now express interest in using Tanzania’s newly built NICTBB to access international sub-sea cables that landed in the Indian Ocean recently.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, last month Tanzania’s Minister for Communications, Science and Technology, Prof Makame Mbarawa Mnyaa, said that a total of 59 districts have already been connected to the new backbone, with that figure set to rise to 80 by the end of the current build phase. At the same date the NICTBB is expected to have hooked up all of the country’s 21 regional headquarters; the figure currently stands at 15 (end-Phase I). Finally, Phase III will see the rest of Tanzania’s districts connected up to the national network. The 5,300km long NICTBB is being constructed by the International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC) of China at the cost of TZS238 billion (USD152 million) – mainly thanks to a soft loan provided by Chinese Exim Bank. CITCC Tanzania is currently working on the construction of Phase II’s southern ring, which comprises a fibre-optic cable spanning from Dar es Salaam to Lindi and Mtwara. From Mtwara, the NICTBB will connect to Songea where it will meet a cable being laid from Njombe. This stage of the project is expected to be completed by July 2012, while the building of a further western ring will commence soon and will connect Tunduma (at the Tanzania/Zambia border) with Biharamulo in north-western Tanzania, passing though Sumbawanga, Mpanda, and Kigoma. This stage is scheduled for completion by March 2013.