How fast internet adoption could propel Tanzania’s economic growth


Dar es Salaam. The adoption of 5G technology offers Tanzania and other African countries the potential to transform their economies through the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), according to experts.

Those who spoke to The Citizen said the adoption could have a positive impact on the continent’s economy, saying that if properly adopted and implemented, it will provide businesses and individuals with the infrastructure to participate. effectively to the global workforce.

This would revolutionize the way Tanzanians and Africans in general engage in e-commerce and the way they deliver health and education services.

If effectively adopted and deployed, the technology will lead to the creation of more digital entrepreneurs, commonly referred to in technology as “technopreneurs” and innovation in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

In fact, when honoring the launch of Vodacom’s 5G technology in September this year, the Minister of Information, Communications and Information Technology, Mr Nape Nnauye, said that a Internet speeds of up to 400 megabits per second (Mbps) would empower Tanzanians to transform lives and help the country achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in areas such as health, agriculture, energy, logistics and many more.

“I call on entrepreneurs, businesses, innovators and ministries to harness the 5G network and transform this nation,” Mr Nnauye said.

Emerging 4IR technologies that would be fully complemented by the network include artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data and/or data science, 3D printing, blockchain technologies, neurotechnologies, genetic modifications, drones, autonomous vehicles and artificial vision, among others.

“The biggest thing that 5G presents is the faster access speed to data, especially in enterprises. Right now we are in a situation where data commerce is big and it is going from a luxury to a necessity for businesses and also individuals,” a tech entrepreneur and founder of My Elimu, Mr. Given Edward, told The Citizen.

He said that with its easy integration into the Internet of Things, the technology enables innovators to innovate easily and efficiently.

Tanzania is one of ten countries in Africa to have adopted the technology, according to available data.

Data compiled by Agence Ecofin (an information agency specializing in public management and the African economy) shows that in sub-Saharan Africa, 5G adoption has been growing rapidly since 2018.

It indicates that as of September 15 of this year, twelve telecommunications operators in ten markets were already marketing mobile services based on ultra-broadband technology.

This means that the rate of adoption has been faster than expected by several OEMs and specialist firms.

For example, last year, the GSM Association (GSMA) reported that the number of 5G connections would reach 35 million by 2025, representing 3% of the number of mobile connections in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

This is likely why in The Mobile Economy 2022 report, the Association revised its estimate to 38 million 5G connections in January this year, representing 4% of the number of mobile connections in the region. .

According to the GSMA, last year alone, mobile technologies and services generated around 8% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP, a contribution that amounted to nearly $140 billion in economic value added.

The mobile ecosystem has also supported more than 3.2 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to public sector funding, with $16 billion raised through taxes on the sector, according to reports.

With more than 61 million people, Tanzania has 58.1 million telecommunications subscriptions in total, according to the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

Internet subscriptions reached 31.1 million in September this year.

Rising data usage, propelled by rising subscribers, could grow the digital economy in Tanzania, and 5G technology will further enhance digital entrepreneurship and innovation, especially for MSMEs who seek to enter and/or are in the online market, according to Mr. Jumanne Mtambalike, technology enthusiast and CEO of Sahara Ventures.

There has also been a significant increase in consumer e-commerce activity, fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic, where online shopping and online retail sales, including business-to-business sales, have increased significantly.

“With 5G, innovative network technologies enable service providers to introduce new services in e-commerce, e-learning, remote healthcare, and industrial and manufacturing processes,” Mr. Mtambalike said. The availability of 5G devices at affordable prices will be crucial for the adoption of the technology in the country.

This is especially true given that the slow adoption of 4G in Tanzania and across the region is, in large part, attributable to the high cost of the devices relative to average income levels.

“However, our government has shown promise in supporting internet penetration and bridging the digital divide in Tanzania. Investing locally to ensure these devices are available at affordable prices is now a challenge for both the public and private sectors,” he said.

5G investments in Tanzania

In recent financial results for the period ended September 30, 2022, Vodacom Tanzania disclosed that it had developed 63 5G sites across the country.

In the report, Vodacom Chief Executive Mr Philip Besiimire said that in the first half of the year the company had invested 74.9 billion shillings in capex to support the growth of the business and the bonds broadband coverage, saying the capex was for network coverage, including 159 new 4G sites and 63 first 5G sites.

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