What is the significance of the government's acquisition of TTCL, and what will be the impact moving forward?
The government taking back a 35% share reflects the idea of Tanzania moving toward being a middle-income country. The government strategically made the decision to own it in the sense that it wants to have a larger part in the telecommunications sector. This is motivated by the fact that once Tanzania has stronger infrastructure and connects more people then it will be easy for the country to graduate to a middle income economy status. We also plan to be an industrial nation as well; therefore, it is of paramount importance for TTCL to be a true government entity.
What potential do you see in the mobile money services business and what is your strategy for converting that?
We see potential because Tanzania has more mobile users than any country in East Africa and therefore there is the potential for TTCL to venture into mobile banking services. We are sure that by positioning ourselves as one of the biggest telecoms operators we will definitely benefit, firstly as a government entity, but also as a profit-making organization. At the moment, TTCL's 4G LTE network coverage is limited to Dar Es Salaam; therefore, we plan by the end of this year to be able to cover another three regions: Dodoma, Mwanza, and Arusha. Dodoma is the capital, Mwanza is a business hub, and Arusha is a tourist destination. Our strategy is to move to those three regions and from there grow into the other regions, with the aim of covering the whole country with our 4G network by 2017. The support we have from the government will help us achieve this.
What specific services and infrastructure are you creating in Dodoma?
We are responsible for implementing the national ICT backbone, connecting Dodoma to the rest of the country. We are the first utility company that has connected the Prime Minister's offices and residence and we are prepared to continue moving quickly. We will be working on internet connectivity as well as improving the availability of the voice platform. These works are being done in cooperation with our national and international stakeholders. Our partnership with Huawei is performing well and we have completed phases 1, 2, and 3 of the national technology infrastructure, which is primarily focused on the national ICT backbone. It is a symbiotic relationship in that TTCL benefits from the technological support that we receive from Huawei but at the same time Huawei also benefits from the footprint that we have as one of the biggest players in telecoms. We have been in operation for quite some time with other companies in the private sector and things are moving well.
What other major services do you currently offer?
In 2012, TTCL won a USD6.7 million contract to supply 1,244GB of internet bandwidth to Rwanda for 10 years. We provide that service and are interested in exporting that model to other countries because TTCL is a profit-making entity and as such represents the possibility to supply those services to the rest of East Africa: Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi. We position ourselves as a big player in the East African market and anticipate this contract to continue. Additionally, we bring our services to remote areas of the country. We use 2G as a technology but TTCL will go even further into remote areas, as we have an obligation and mandate as a government entity to enable telecommunication to the rural areas. Whereas our competitors just look on the profit side, we also have a social responsibility to make sure that rural Tanzania is also connected. The sectors that are set to benefit from this are education, health, agriculture, infrastructure and all the trade that takes place between rural Tanzania and the urban centers.