Tigo connects 85pc of rural consumers with UCSAF subsidy funding

12Sep 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Tigo connects 85pc of rural consumers with UCSAF subsidy funding

SOME 85 percent of rural population can now access Tigo Tanzania Limited’s communication services including Tigo Pesa transaction thanks to a deployed second generation network (2G) with subsidy funding from Universal Communications Service Access Fund (UCSAF) since 2013.

Tigo Tanzania’s Managing Director, Simon Karikari (R) shaking hands with UCSAF’s CEO, Engineer Peter Ulanga after signing a rural communications services contract recently in Dar es Salaam. Photo: courtesy of Tigo.

 Over 264,763 rural consumers scattered across several regions of the country have been connected by the mobile phone company which has received 16bn/- in subsidy from UCSAF during the period as it targets to close the gap between urban and rural communication by end 2020.

This drastic growth in mobile connectivity has been boosted by Tigo’s ability to also deploy 3G, 4G and 4G+ network to the urban areas in the country. “We have been applying for tenders from UCSAF since 2012 and we will continue to do so, in the quest to ensure that rural areas have access to network connectivity,” said Tigo Head of Planning and Engineering, Emmanuel Mallya.

The subsidy move was adopted because telecommunication services would accelerate economic undertakings in rural areas where return on investment takes longer hence the need for the government to design UCSAF.

Through UCSAF, telcos have received subsidies to ease the rollout of their services to remote areas which would otherwise take very long time to attract companies’ investments. The subsidies have been provided to attract the operators to move to the areas which currently do not attract investment for poor return on investments.

Available data show that since 2013, Tigo has been able to connect residents across 111 wards, costing a whopping 17bn/- of which 16bn/- was subsidy from the government. “In UCSAF phase one, we connected 190,942 customers in 51 wards with 27 wards on 2G network technology and 24 wards on 2G and 3G network technologies,” Mallya said.

Under UCSAF’s phase two, Tigo connected some 57,543 customers, scattered across 60 wards with 41 wards connected to 2G network technology and 24 wards connected through 2G and 3G network technologies.

Mallya said the UCSAF project was a necessary innovation by the government because it has created an enabling environment for mobile network operators to extend services to marginalised rural populations.

“Tigo is committed to bridging the communication gap between urban and rural under-served Tanzanians before end of 2020 in order to foster social, educational and economic development. We take this opportunity to re-affirm our commitment to continuing to live up to our mission of providing digital lifestyle services to our customers across the country,” the Tigo Head of Planning and Engineering noted.

Tigo has invested heavily on network modernisation and optimization for the past five years to increase the coverage footprint and network capacity, according to the company’s boss. “Most importantly, the investment is meant to increase the quality of experience for customers using mobile broadband services,” said Tigo Managing Director, Simon Karikari.

Karikari said his company is optimistic that increased accessibility to mobile broadband will open rural communities to essential services such as e-health, e-education and e-government, thereby transforming the way people learn and do business.

“This will enable the entire country to experience a wide array of economic, educational and social advantages, speeding up development and the overall wellbeing of the communities,” the Tigo Tanzania CEO added.

Karikari’s arguments have been backed by UCSAF CEO, Engineer Peter Ulanga who said by 2018, the fund’s projects had benefited over 4.5 million people based in 2,500 villages which had been denied such services for decades since the mobile phone service revolution started.

“I commend Tigo and other mobile network operators for delivering on their tenders by ensuring that quality and reliable communication services are availed to consumers in rural areas,” Eng Ulanga said during a third phase contract signing ceremony end last year.