Tanzania relies on UCSAF, policy to chase down connectivity target
While mobile phone coverage has reached 66% of the population in Tanzania, more attention is required to address low levels in rural areas according to the government.
The country’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology Dr Faustine Ndugulile says the government, through the Universal Communications Services Access Fund (UCSAF), is working hard to ensure an increase of geographical network in the country with the idea of reaching more people - especially in rural areas.
According to the Commission for Science and Technology, to date 86% of people in rural areas do not have internet connectivity compared to 44.6% in urban areas, a situation Ndugulile says must change.
A year ago, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in a report that Tanzania is well-positioned to integrate into a global digital economy because of its growing economy and a rapidly developing innovation ecosystem, but noted low use of internet in the country.
Ndugulile adds that the UCSAF will ensure that even areas that are not viable economically will have access to communication services. He told parliament that there are currently just over just over 53 million registered SIM cards and that the number is expected to rise once mobile network is extended to more rural areas.
Tanzania has an estimated population of just over 61 million people.
He said his ministry was aware of the importance of technology and innovation, one of the reasons it was focusing on seriously investing in the telecom sector.
According to Ndugulile, as part of the Digital Tanzania project, the government was also pushing an agenda that would ensure that the national fibre backbone reaches 80% of the population so that people can access internet services.
“The Digital Tanzanian project is set to bring changes by increasing employment opportunities through innovations as well as improving small and medium scale enterprises by guaranteeing accessibility of reliable internet services among others,” he says.