Nearly 20 years ago, the Tanzania launched an ambitious programme to help the nation reach a middle-income economy status by 2025.
This week, the World Bank announced that Tanzania had finally reached the middle-income category; five years ahead of the initial timeline proposed by the government.
Tanzania has been able to reach this category due to a period of strong economic progress. Last year, for example, Tanzania recorded economic growth figures of 7 per cent, helping it maintain its position as one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.
The country’s achievement of becoming a middle-income economy is an important milestone. It is equally important, however, that the country continues to make every effort to ensure that the benefits of the country’s development are shared by all Tanzanians.
A recent study by academics in the United States found that digital technology is becoming an increasingly important tool for helping African countries achieve inclusive economic growth.
Their study indicates that access to mobile internet – through smart phones – helps enhance consumer information, employment networking, job opportunities and financial inclusion.
Tanzania is, of course, no exception. In recent years, internet penetration in the country has shot up, now standing at 46 per cent. This rise in internet penetration has been driven, in part, by the country’s telecom providers.
These companies have played an active role in bridging the gap between urban and rural areas.
It is becoming increasingly clear that helping rural communities have access to reliable mobile internet services is a key requirement for helping to reduce the gap between these two communities.
Beyond this, having access to reliable mobile internet is an important method for helping to facilitate economic opportunities for those previously cut off.
For example, Tigo Tanzania’s mobile money service – Tigo Pesa – offers people who might have previously been unbanked with a convenient way of obtaining loans and savings, which in turn helps boost financial inclusion.
Tigo is working to help close the digital divide. Their new affordable Kitochi 4G device gives customers access to a host of communication and social media channels, like Facebook and WhatsApp, helping customers stay connected.
As the country enters a new chapter on its path towards greater economic development, we have to reflect on the ways in which telecoms can continue to contribute towards future achievements.
By investing in the next generation of infrastructure, telecoms companies can continue to improve mobile internet penetration and ensure more Tanzanians benefit from mobile services.
Let us hope, therefore, that the sector continues to attract the support it needs through the balance of regulation and investment incentives.
In doing so, we can help ensure that benefits are felt by all.