Optimizing Tanzania’s Internet Space, Closing the Gap for a Thriving Financing Inclusion and Digital Economy.

Optimizing Tanzania’s Internet Space, Closing the Gap for a Thriving Financing Inclusion and Digital Economy.

As the world thrives in the digital age, Tanzania stands at a pivotal crossroads. The internet has revolutionized economies globally, and the nation has taken crucial steps towards a digital future. Electronic financial services like mobile money have surged in popularity, driving financial inclusion to a remarkable 76%, as revealed by the recent financial service demand side survey (Finscope, 2023).

However, to fully optimize its digital potential, the country must bridge the gap in internet access, speed, and user awareness.

𝗕𝗲𝘆𝗼𝗻𝗱 𝗠𝗼𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝗠𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆: 𝗔 𝗧𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗶𝗴𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗘𝗰𝗼𝘀𝘆𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗺

While mobile financial services are a success story, Tanzania’s digital economy encompasses more. E-commerce platforms offer vast opportunities for businesses and consumers, while digital literacy empowers citizens to participate actively in the online world. Strategic investments across these sectors are crucial for a well-rounded digital transformation.

𝗘𝘅𝗽𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗲𝘁 𝗔𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘀

Enhancing internet coverage, particularly in underserved peri-urban and rural areas where some areas are yet to enjoy reliable access is significant. Telecom companies, with their existing network of cell towers, are well-positioned to lead the charge in expanding coverage beyond major cities.

However, the initiative requires significant infrastructure investment. Public-private partnerships can play a key role in financing infrastructure development, ensuring that the 24 million Tanzanians who access the services via mobile phones (approximately 33% of the internet population), fully capitalize on the digital revolution.

𝗜𝗺𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗛𝗶𝗴𝗵-𝗦𝗽𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗲𝘁 𝗔𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀

While Tanzania boasts significant geographical coverage, with 3G reaching 72% and 4G reaching 64%, a substantial portion of internet users roughly one-third (12.2 million lines) remain tethered to slow 2G connections.

This highlights the need for infrastructure upgrades and investment in fiber optic networks. Faster internet will empower businesses to operate more efficiently online, foster innovation, and allow citizens to access educational resources and healthcare services effectively.

𝗘𝘅𝗽𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗙𝗶𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗶𝘁𝘆

The existing fiber infrastructure falls short of meeting demand, primarily due to its limited coverage in certain areas and among specific fewer user groups. Recent statistics reveal that only 49,163 domestic users and 5,126 office users are connected via fiber, representing just 0.13% and 0.01% respectively of the 36.8 million internet users nationwide.

To bridge this gap, expanding fiber optic distribution is crucial, especially to major users such as office buildings, hotels, restaurants, conference halls, malls, and others.

𝗘𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗨𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮 𝗦𝗲𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗢𝗻𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗘𝗻𝘃𝗶𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁

Public education on cybersecurity remains eminent. Service providers must prioritize educating users about online threats like phishing scams and data breaches. Collaborative initiatives between the government, NGOs, and tech companies can develop engaging programs to promote safe internet practices for all age groups.

In conclusion, by expanding internet access, investing in high-speed infrastructure, and prioritizing user safety, Tanzania can unlock its full digital potential. Collaborative efforts from the government, private sector, and civil society are vital for a secure and inclusive digital ecosystem. This will propel the nation towards a thriving digital economy, empowering businesses, boosting innovation, and improving the lives of all Tanzanians.

𝗔𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗿;

Aziz Rashid is an academic, research assistant, freelance writer specializing in financial and economic issues, business analyst, data reporter, and columnist for newspapers and magazines. For inquiries, please contact via email at; binazizrashid@gmail.com.