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Mobile operators respond to smartphone surge in Tanzania

Mobile operators respond to smartphone surge in Tanzania

Smartphone adoption is on the increase in Tanzania, propelled by increasing roll-out and uptake of 3G and fast LTE internet accessibility as operators Tigo and Vodacom Tanzania add more base stations.

The Tanzanian Communications Regulatory Authority said earlier this year that the country's internet penetration rate now stands at 43%, with the total number of internet users in the country jumping to 23.1 million as at the end of 2018.

"Out of the 43.6 million mobile phone subscribers, 22.2 million of them were connected to the internet services through their handsets," said the TCRA in a report released in February this year.

According to recent research by data and analytics firm, GlobalData, there is a surge in smartphone adoption and this will likely drive further internet penetration in the country.

The analysis by GlobalData says usage of smartphones in Tanzania will grow at a relatively fast compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19% and will "account for more than 30 million mobile subscriptions" by the end of 2024.

This means that smartphone usage in Tanzania will surpass that of feature phones. Feature phones are currently the dominant cellphone types in use in Tanzania, says GlobalData as they account for 70% of total handset subscriptions in the country.

"This smartphone growth is largely driven by increasing 3G and 4G network deployments by mobile operators such as Vodacom and Tigo. For instance, Vodacom added more than 300 4G sites, covering 23% of the population, and added more than 190 3G sites, reaching 52% of the population in 2018," said Lorenzo Solazzo, technology analyst at GlobalData.

Solazzo added that telecom operators in Tanzania were "increasingly offering affordable 3G and 4G smartphones to stimulate mobile data usage" which would also underpin future growth.

Tigo is currently offering its subscribers discounted Tecno S3 3G smartphones which are retailing at about US$29.

This is further strengthened by data-centric offerings that include free access to over-the-top (OTT) applications.

Most of the operators in Tanzania have daily, weekly and monthly bundle plans targeted for social networks.

"Moreover, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) mandated that the country's mobile operators' mobile broadband coverage should reach 90% of the population by 2024, providing opportunities for further 3G and 4G deployments in more rural areas and thus more mobile data usage," explained Solazzo.

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