Tanzania disputes internet user total



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Dec 2, 2009


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TANZANIA Communications and Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has disputed a figure showing that the country has only 520,000 internet subscribers. This means the country ranks below Kenya with 7.8 million subscribers.

Tanzania is connected to the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and the SEACOM fibre optic cable system.

The revelations, made by Mr Jabbi Lamin, the adviser to the director general, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) at the 10th Broadcasters conference on Friday, surprised TCRA officials who disputed the figure saying it was too small.

Mr Lamin said that Tanzania has a mobile phone subscriber base of 17 million, while the internet subscriber total stood at 520,000 users as of June 2009.

TCRA's Director of Broadcasting Affairs, Mr Habbi Gunze, said that he was not comfortable with the internet subscriber figure, when more than 17 million people owned mobile phones.

"I am not comfortable with this. We have 17 million mobile phone subscribers some of whom are able to access internet services," he said.

Eng. Andrew Kisaka of TCRA said that there is a need to do research on this in order to ascertain the number of internet and broadband subscribers in the country.

Presenting a paper titled 'Taking Advantage of Broadband Infrastructure to Provide Broadcasting Services in East Africa, Mr Lamin said that Tanzania could do better than Kenya since the potential is much greater.

"We just need to learn what is happening then capitalize on that. I believe that Tanzania can do much better than Kenya since it is on the coastal area," he added.

Kenya will have a mobile subscriber base of about 21 million by the end of 2010. It will also have 18,626 broadband subscribers. Uganda had a 14 million mobile subscribers' base by the end of June 2009 and 2.5 million internet subscribers.

Rwanda had a 3.6 million mobile subscriber base by the end of September, this year and 493,900 internet subscribers as of last June.

Mr Lamin said that as the East African country moves to reap more benefits from broadband, there is a need to have clear policies in this connection -- which are still lacking.

The 10th annual broadcasters' conference brought together more than 150 media stakeholders including operators, owners, Information Communication Technology (ICT) experts and managers from within the country and the neighbouring country.

There was also a participant from South Africa representing Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

The Annual Broadcasters' Conference (ABC) is part of the TCRA workshop where media stakeholders, from within the country and outside, representatives of regulatory bodies, commissions and ICT institutions from neighbouring countries convene annually in the
country to deliberate on issues concerning Broadcasting industry.

This includes consultations, technology change trend, challenges facing the industry and how broadcasting should be managed more efficiently, regulated and operated in the country.

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