Tanzania’s Daily News quotes the managing director of Vodacom’s mobile operation there, Rene Meza, has questioned why the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) stipulates that mobile frequency fees be charged in US dollars, arguing it is responsible for the rising cost of doing business there. Meza told the paper that the decision to peg frequency fees to a foreign currency adds an unnecessary burden on end users and is perverse, given that the frequency assets themselves are a locally-owned resource. ‘There is no need to charge in US dollar because we operate in Tanzania and charge the local currency,’ he said. The official went on to say that the east African country’s telecoms industry faces enough obstacles already to redress issues of poor infrastructure, a patchy electricity supply and a lacked of a skilled workforce, but that it also remains one of the most heavily taxed in the region.
The TCRA has refuted Meza’s argument however, saying that they are neither imposing nor charging for frequencies in US dollars as claimed. The paper quotes the TCRA’s manager of corporate communications Innocent Mungy as saying that the frequency charges mandate is contained in the licensing regulations passed in 2011, under the auspices of the Electronic and Postal communication Act of 2010. Mungy counters that not only were local operators duly consulted, but they had over a month to submit their views on the outline proposals and that whilst the fees are charged in USD, ‘operators are free to pay in Tanzania shilling and most if not all do so’.