Tanzania Experiencing increase in the number of communication users while building a digital economy

Tanzanian mobile money subscriptions reached 35.7 million in March 2022, up from 32.5 million in January 2022.

The increase is based on a count of all active SIM Cards with mobile money service accounts that had an activity or were used at least once in the previous three months between March 2022 and May 2022, according to the Tanzania Communications Authority (TCRA).

According to data released by the communications regulator in May 2022, Vodacom Tanzania's Mpesa product had 40 percent of the market share, followed by Tigo at 26 percent, Airtel at 21 percent, Halotel at 9 percent, and TTCL with its T-Pesa product at the bottom with 4 percent.

Distribution of market share of the percentage of users of financial services through Mobile Network

Operators in Tanzania between January and March 2022. SOURCE: TCRA

Thus, these figures show an increase in the use of mobile financial services, which has been increasing year after year or every quarter. According to updated regulatory data, five mobile operators in Tanzania provide mobile money services: Vodacom with M-Pesa (40 percent), Tigo with Tigo Pesa (26 percent), Airtel with Airtel Money (21 percent), Halotel with Halopesa (9 percent), and TTCL (4 percent).

While fixed network subscriptions remained at 1% between January and March 2022, mobile network subscriptions soared to 99.9%, with 55,293,345 users recorded as using mobile network services up until March 2022, compared to 71,894 users of fixed networks during the same review period. Furthermore, three telecommunications service providers, namely Vodacom Tanzania, Airtel, and Tigo, continued to report the highest number of communication users. Vodacom Tanzania had 16,737,350 users as of March this year, up from 16,165,178 users in January; Tigo had a record 14,898,739 users in March, up from 14,620,628 users in January; and Airtel had 14,743,726 users in March, up from 14,760,361 users in January.

Overall, Tigo recorded the highest number of subscribers in all three months from January to March with a totaling number of new subscribers that reached a net addition of 1,529,463 newly registered mobile communication services users; Vodacom Tanzania followed with 823,797, Halotel -100,774, TTCL 59,635, Airtel 43,300 users and Smile closed at the bottom with 1,104 new subscribers recorded in January, February and March 2022.

Overall, Tigo had the most newer subscribers from January to March, with 1,529,463 newly registered mobile communication services users; Vodacom Tanzania came in second with 823,797, Halotel -100,774, TTCL 59,635, Airtel 43,300 users, and Smile came in last with 1,104 new subscribers in January, February, and March 2022; whereby the total number of newly subscribed mobile communication services users at that review period totaled 2,356,525.

A comparison of off-net and on-net voice traffic in March 2022 revealed that off-net traffic had a 51 percent share versus 49 percent for on-net voice traffic.

On-net and off-net connections refer to various types of calls or messaging. On-net connections are calls or messages that stay within a person's home network, whereas off-net connections are either made or received by a number from a different network. Furthermore, voice traffic from East Africa, both on-net and off-net, stood at 3,203,056 as of March 2022. Voice traffic from Other International calls totaled 9,580,016 and 5,791,612 to international, respectively.

In March 2022, internet data usage reached 170 petabytes, up from 140 petabytes in September of the previous year. The estimate is based on internet subscriptions to the public Internet via cable modem, DSL, fiber-to-the-home/building, other fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions, satellite broadband, terrestrial fixed wireless broadband, handset-based, computer-based (USB/dongles), and mobile-broadband subscriptions, according to the regulatory. 1000000 Gigabytes = 1 Petabyte of broadband data.

In the digital broadcasting field, Startimes has continued to record a large number of broadcast service users. Up until March 2022, Startimes had 2,045,414 active DTT and DTH decoders, with Azam coming in second with 824,320 active decoders, and Multichoice's DSTV rounding out the top three in the television broadcasting subscription with 237,922 active Television set-top boxes.

The number of regular mails decreased from 720,000 in January to 164,490 in March 2022, according to the Authority's data. The number of parcels shipped decreased from 6,459 in January to 4,003 in March during this time. In addition, document postage dropped from 121,591 in January to 16,165 in March 2022. In response to the figures, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) Acting Head of Communications Semu Mwakyanjala told the newspaper that the communications sector's growth trend is satisfactory, indicating Tanzania's hopes of achieving the goal of building a modern ICT-based economy are ripe.

“We are confident that the increase in the number of users of communications services in the country reflects the broad growth of the communications sector in Tanzania as a whole, and we, the Communications Authority, do not doubt that this growth will provide opportunities for young people to continue to benefit from communication for long-term development.” Emphasized Mwakyanjala.

According to the authority's spokesperson, the mobile money industry is rapidly expanding against the backdrop of increased internet access and smartphone usage and has the potential to accelerate Tanzania's economic growth. Nape Nnauye, Tanzania's Minister of Information, Communications, and Information Technology, recently presented his Ministry's Budget in Parliament in Dodoma, noting that the Tanzanian government is committed to ensuring the growth of the communications sector by increasing the number of communications cum users in the country, including reaching the National Telecommunications Backbone to all corners of vast Tanzania.