Why Maharage Chande must hit the ground running as new TTCL boss

Mr Maharage Chande. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Once a force to reckon with in the telecommunications sphere, TTCL has seen its influence drop to new levels during the past few years as it failed to withstand the competition brought by mobile telecom operators.

Dar es Salaam. The new managing director of Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL), Mr Maharage Chande, will have to hit the ground running if he is to effectively deal with the operational challenges facing the state-owned telecom outfit.

Once a force to reckon with in the telecommunications sphere, TTCL has seen its influence drop to new levels during the past few years as it failed to withstand the competition brought by mobile telecom operators.

As of June 2023, TTCL stood in position five in terms of the number of subscribers in a competitive market of six players.

The company had a total of 1,559,090 subscribers, which was equivalent to a market share of only three percent out of a total of 64.089 million subscriptions, according to Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) figures.

It could also be noted that the number of fixed subscriptions has remained low for a number of years now. Having dropped from 76,288 in the year 2019 to 71,834 in 2021, the number of fixed subscribers rose to 84,696 in 2022 but dropped again to 83,407 as of June 2023.

Apparently, this is what President Samia Suluhu Hassan was referring to when she said in April of this year that TTCL should reconsider its future as an operator given its failure in the telecoms space.

“Frankly speaking, TTCL has failed in the telecom business. Let them focus on providing broadband; in fact, if they engage in telecom and the broadband belongs to them, there is no fairness in the competition.” President Hassan said this in April 2023, when she received an annual report from the Controller and Auditor General.

In her address at State House, Dar es Salaam, Hassan said that TTCL must review its operations to determine if it can compete effectively in the telecoms market and identify other areas of operation if not, adding, “I gave this directive last year; I do not know why it has not been implemented.”

It might have been in the same line of thinking that the immediate past managing director for TTCL, Mr Peter Ulanga, is on record as having been quoted as saying that TTCL now seeks to connect an additional one million households to high-speed fibre optic internet services by 2027.

He is on record as having said that the company wants to help break down the barriers that hinder digital connectivity for citizens, especially those living in remote and underserved communities.

This, he said, would be achieved through an expansion of its internet service to 100 districts by January 2024. The company is targeting coverage of all 139 districts in the country by December 2024.

Against that background, analysts remain optimistic that Mr Chande, who only joined the public service in 2021 after serving as the Regional Managing Director at MultiChoice Africa, has the right experience and a proven track record of leadership in tech that is needed to revitalise TTCL.

His career trajectory is marked by significant milestones, including four years at Standard Chartered Bank from 2000 to 2004, where he served as the Head of Information Technology.

This role also underscores his early involvement in the IT sector, equipping him with a strong foundation in technology.

Subsequently, having worked at Vodacom Tanzania between 2004 and 2010, Mr Chande got the right experience that solidified his reputation as a leader with a keen understanding of the telecom landscape.

“He is a visionary leader with a track record in heading the technology department, and that suggests that he’s well-equipped to lead the company into a new era,” a source who worked with Mr Chande stated with the condition to remain anonymous.

“Chande holds the technical know-how because of his academic background, making him a perfect fit for his skills. His history of starting from junior positions in technical departments and how he was able to climb leadership ladders is a testament to his capabilities,” the source told The Citizen.

An independent economic analyst, Mr Oscar Mkunde, said the challenge Mr Chande would face would be that of leading an organisation that operates in a very competitive environment but one that has a system that does not work the way it should.

He said Mr Chande, who performed quite well during his days in the private sector, will now have to contend with bureaucracy in state-owned institutions where decisions that would otherwise need to be approved as a matter of urgency would still need to undergo a tedious and excessively complicated administrative procedure.

“He will have to either make TTCL innovative enough to compete in the market or ditch competition and find a niche in broadband connectivity,” said Mr Mkunda.