Information obtained from the Tanzania High Commission indicates that the TTCL will soon be granted a cellular licence to boost its stand in the privatisation process so that whatever company takes over is assured that it will also run a cellular service throughout Tanzania.
The other reason for this may be that there are companies interested only in running a cellular service company in Tanzania, but not wanting to get involved with the TTCL.
The government wants the privatisation process, which entails selling 35% of the company to a strategic partner and another significant portion to institutional investors, completed by the end of this year.
Tenders for this should be invited in the coming months, although they were meant to be invited by December last year, with the process already behind schedule.
The telecommunications company has a revenue equivalent to some US$136-million a year, which is expected to grow as the network draws in more customers.
The goal is to develop the telecommunications company into a profit-making and customer-orientated telecommunications service provider of international standard. Most of the non-core business activities have already been unbundled, allowing it to focus on its core business.
The privatisation of the TTCL falls under the country’s US$250-million telecommunications restructuring programme (TRP), which aims to rehabilitate, modernise and expand Tanzania’s basic telecommunications network.
Once privatised, the TTCL will complete both the restructuring and outstanding projects of the TRP.
At present, Tanzania has a low telephone density of 0,4 telephones per 1 000 people. Although the current fixed-line infrastructure has the capacity of 176 000 lines, only about 120 000 lines have been made available to customers.
This has mainly been attributed to the high cost of providing the local loop cabling and the supply of capacity where demand does not exist or has not been stimulated.
Following implementation of the TRP, the country’s network could increase to about 210 000 lines, raising the country’s telephone density to 0,7 per 1 000 people.
In the next few years a significant rise in demand should be recorded as the macro-economic fundamentals of the country continue to firm up.
Interest and inflation rates are decreasing, prices and the exchange rate are stable, exchange controls have been removed, the financial sector is almost fully liberalised, and government expenditure is well controlled.
The mining sector, particularly related to diamonds and gold, as well as the tourism sector continue to experience high growth, and bilateral and multilateral relations with international financial institutions are good, the high commission reports.
There are currently two mobile operators in Tanzania; after four years of operation, there are about 36 000 subscribers to these networks, with Mobitel holding the larger market share of 23 000 subscribers.
The limited growth of the subscriber base has been attributed to the confined capacity and legally restricted coverage of the network in terms of zoning arrangements.
These zoning restriction are now removed and cellular network operators can cover the whole country.
With only 30% of Tanzania’s 30-million citizens having access to communication infrastructure, cellular and telecommunication technology, if used together, could provide telecoms infrastructure to the majority of the country.