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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Cellphone firms should show that CSR matters

25th May 2012
Editorial Cartoon

Renowned American social writer Eric Hoffer (July 25, 1902 – May 21, 1983) put it excellently when he said: “In times of change, the learners will inherit the earth, while the knowers will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

The wisdom in this statement ties in beautifully with the word Communication, Science and Technology ministry deputy minister January Makamba had on Wednesday for mobile phone service providers through the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

According to the deputy minister, the companies he had in mind have hitherto contributed less to government coffers in terms of taxes than they ought to have done in an environment of greater transparency and accountability.

He said the amount the firms so contributed were also less than other East African Community partner states earned from the operations of similar firms, particularly relative to the steady ballooning numbers of mobile phone users, with the figure for Tanzanian standing at a lowly 2.5 per cent while it was just about for times as much in Kenya and a little over twice as much in Uganda.

In his remarks, which he made when addressing TCRA staff, Makamba also went out of the ordinary by not only pinpointing some of the accusations commonly levelled by mobile phone users and the larger public against those offering the respective services but also underlining the importance of addressing them as a matter of urgency.

We see part of what the deputy minister said as something that his audience and mobile phone service providers ought to have noticed and acted on long before he did. After all, is ensuring that one’s customers or clients find one’s goods or services what corporate social responsibility is mostly about? What company or organizations is unfamiliar with the fact that, to paraphrase Ifeoma Mbuk, customers are like swarms of bees and no one would be attracted to them were it not for the honey?

Surely, it would be unthinkable for people to hope to become what they want or need to be by remaining what they are. Even though there may be endless possibilities, they come within one’s reach only if ample room is made for them.

The combined coverage Tanzania enjoys in terms of mobile phone services remains a remote dream in many parts of the world. Too bad, the consequent cut-throat competition between and among the various service providers is not translating into the sublime services one would expect.

It would therefore be heartwarming indeed if all concerned heeded the deputy minister’s warning on the need to guarantee mobile phone customers value for their money.

Endless complaints about customers losing money in botched attempts to transfer it electronically or about mobile phone service providers endlessly bombarding hapless customers with irrelevant but costly messages cause needless damage hard, if not impossible, to repair.

It’s high time all concerned got things done right without fronting excuses, as quality service is what they officially set out to offer. Big deal? By no means!

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