Mobile operator Vodacom Tanzania has announced plans to expand its rural coverage, matching a trend from rivals such as Zantel which has also targeted improved coverage of more remote parts of Tanzania to boost uptake. Vodacom Tanzania CEO Rene Meza is quoted by Daily News as saying that although mobile penetration in urban areas is currently at over 80%, by comparison rural coverage languishes at a much lower 25%. To redress the imbalance and drive rural growth, Meza’s firm is looking to up its infrastructure investment in the provinces, including around TZS120 billion (USD77 million) in 2012.
Last week CommsUpdate reported that Zantel also plans to expand its networks to rural areas as it looks ramp up its focus on competing for new users in more remote parts of the country. Competition for business in rural areas is ‘heating up’ amongst the incumbent cellcos and in response, Zantel intends to invest heavily to enhance its wireless infrastructure, including rolling out 3G/3.5G and mobile broadband internet services. Its chief executive Ali Jarsh was quoted as saying that his company is hoping to use the expansion to boost Zantel’s market share to 20% in the next two years, up from its current level of 6.7% at end-March – according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. The cellco, once the nation’s fastest growing cellco, shed roughly 12,000 net customers during the first three months of this year for a total of 1.511 million.