Tanzania - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
Tanzania's government orders suspension of licences to enforce IPOs
The government has actively embraced competition in the telecom market, and has encouraged the private sector despite it having retaken control of the incumbent telco TTCL in June 2016. Foreign participation has also been encouraged to promote economic growth and social development. Policy reforms have led to the telecom sector becoming among the most liberal in Africa. However, high import tariffs on telecoms equipment and taxes on telephone facilities by various authorities are still placing a burden on investors and operators.
Tanzania has two fixed-line operators (TTCL and Zantel) and eight operational mobile networks, with four additional players licensed under a new converged regulatory regime. With four major operators Vodacom, Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain), Tigo and Zantel mobile penetration has reached 83% by March 2017. In recent years a price war among these players has adversely affected the smaller operators, which have suffered from customer churn.
The converged licensing regime has brought a large number of new players into the market. The liberalisation of Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony as well as the introduction of third and fourth generation (3G, LTE) mobile services and wireless broadband networks has boosting the internet sector which has been otherwise hampered by the low level of development of the traditional fixed-line network.
Following the launch of mobile broadband services the mobile network operators have become the leading internet service providers. Operators are hoping for revenue growth in the mobile data services market, given that the voice market is almost entirely prepaid and voice ARPU continues to fall. To this end they have invested in network upgrades. A fast developing source of revenue is from mobile money transfer and m-banking services.
The landing of the first fibre optic international submarine cables in the country in recent years has revolutionised the market which up to that point entirely depended on expensive satellite connections. In parallel, the government is working on the later phases of a national fibre backbone network aimed at connecting population centres around the country.
The government has become more determined to manage the telecom sector more effectively. It has cracked down on counterfeit smartphones, which were thought to account for up to 30% of devices in circulation at the start of the campaign, while in early 2016 the telecom regulator's board was dismissed after it had failed to update the Telecommunications Traffic Monitoring System (TTMS). This system was expected to deliver up to TZS400 billion to the government annually. In late 2016 a new tax collection system was launched to help generate revenue from telecom services.
The government in September completed a long-term process to reacquire TTCL, buying out the 35% stake owned by Bharti Airtel. Since then TTCL has undergone a restricting exercise and has secured financing to improve its network infrastructure.
Market penetration rates in Tanzania's telecoms sector 2016
Market | Penetration rate
Fixed-line telephony | 0.2%
Internet users | 39%
Mobile SIM (population) | 83%
Government orders suspension of licences to telcos failing to list 25% of shares on the stock market;
Halotel Tanzania launches Halopesa m-banking service;
TTCL enters m-money market, invests $271 million to upgrade exchanges;
Liquid Telecom acquires the ISP Startel Tanzania;
GSMA initiates rural tower sharing partnership to provide services to rural areas;
TTCL extends LTE-A service;
Mobile Number Portability introduced in March 2017;
Government sets up Telecommunications Revenue Assurance System (TRASS) to improve telecom tax raising ability;
Telecom regulator in March 2017 fined mobile operators for failing to register SIM cards;
TTCL secures TZS600 billion loan to enable it to improve its telecom infrastructure and services in rural areas;
Vodacom Tanzania updated M-Pesa service with its G2 platform;
Tanzanian MNOs improve on full m-money interoperability;
Regulator sets voice interconnection rates to 2017;
Government allocates TZS17.5 billion to improve rural telecom infrastructure;
Report update includes regulator's market data to March 2017, operator data to Q1 2017, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Tanzania Telecommunications Company (TTCL); Zanzibar Telecommunications Corporation (Zantel); Vodacom Tanzania; Bharti Airtel (Zain); Millicom (Tigo); Benson Informatics Limited (BOL); Sasatel (Dovetel); Africa Online; Raha.com; Tele2; Alink; SatCom Networks; SimbaNet; Afsat; Cats-Net.