Indeed, Africa is slightly catching up with the developed countries mainly because it has made great advances in the ICT sector, which is an obvious development catalyst.
The encouraging news is that developing countries, Tanzania included, have realized this need and are striving to invest or attract investors in the ICT sector. It is against this background that the government has encouraged establishment of ICT related companies and institutions to ensure that the public has the widest access to the many benefits of ICT innovations, credited for creating a global village, even if its prosperity is not evenly shared.
One of the leading telecommunications companies in the country, a result of policy initiatives to attract investors in the sector is the Zanzibar Telecommunications Co. Ltd (ZANTEL). It provides quality telecommunication services to individual consumers, businesses and other telecommunications operators.
John Sicilima, the Zantel Chief Information and Technology Officer, revealed in an interview in Dar es Salaam lately that the company was determined to ensure that the public gets a wide variety of top-notch mobile phone services through its network, enabling people to change their lives for the better.
Sicilima said the company has completed the modernization of its network and continues to roll out new products, ensuring that customers are in position to move with world trends in communications through data and voice.
One advantage enjoyed by Zantel customers is having a wider reach in the provision of communication services as it is integral to two fiber optic systems, the EASSY and SEAS undersea cables with landing points at Zantel Park in Dar es Salaam. These submarine cables connect to landlocked countries to global voice and data systems,so they no longer have to rely on satellite internet access to conduct voice and data services.
Zantel operates a data centre in Dar es Salaam, housing a landing station for EASSY and SEAS fiber stations, and provides co-location facilities for other operators within and outside Tanzania.
“We also take pride in the fact that Zantel is today the fastest internet data and voice services provider locally, thanks to its 3G and 4G infrastructure in place,” observed the Zantel official.
“Zantel is among operators who are at the forefront in providing mobile money services through its Ezypesa platform,” Sicilima affirmed.
In an effort to provide more monetary transaction convenience to its customers, Zantel has recently introduced interoperability with more networks to allow Ezypesa users to send and receive money to and from subscribers of Tigopesa, Halopesa, M-Pesa and Airtel money.
Zantel has partnered with some of Tanzania’s major commercial banks to enable Ezypesa users to easily carry out interbank transactions from mobile money wallet to bank and bank to mobile money wallet. The banks include the People’s Bank of Zanzibar (PBZ), CRDB, NMB, Amana Bank, Bank of Africa, Exim Bank, Access Bank and PBZ Islamic.
He also pointed out that apart from wallet to bank transactions, Ezypesa has a Masterpass QR service which allows Ezypesa users to make payments in restaurants, department stores, hotels, supermarkets and other goods and services providers.
Analysts say the service ensures that consumers are guaranteed the security of being able to pay for in-store purchases by scanning the QR (Quick Response) code displayed at the checkout on their smartphones, or by entering a merchant identifier into their feature phones. Users are also able to use the solution at any location where Masterpass QR is accepted, locally and across the continent.
Ezypesa customers can pay for utilities such as water and electricity, government services and fines for traffic violations. Ezypesa remains the only mobile financial platform in Tanzania with which one can pay the Zanzibar Revenue Board and buy electricity in Zanzibar.
Zantel officials also observe that Ezypesa has not only made life easy for customers but has created active, direct and indirect employment throughout the country, as there are more than 2,500 agents who operate in various regions. “There are more remarkable things that Zantel has in store for Ezypesa customers which will be unveiled in the near future. Experts in mobile financial services at Zantel are working hard in search of more financial solutions to add more value to this mobile money platform,” a senior official noted recently.
In conclusion, Sicilima said Zantel will continue to improve its network and innovate to cater for customers’ interests in areas of education, health, agriculture, transport, commerce and many others.
He expressed gratitude to the government for working with telecommunication companies to improve the sector, whose role in the country’s development is crucial.
Among other services, Zantel is known for providing the fastest Internet in the market through its EASSY and SEAS optic fibre infrastructure.
Asha Kassim, a businesswoman based in Mtwara says she uses Zantel Internet and other services to do business with associates across the East African region, thanks to the company’s efficiency.
Ezypesa has played a significant role in improving people’s lives by offsetting the unemployment gap as Laurian Moshi, a university graduate puts it. “Due to lack of opportunities in the labour market when I graduated, I ventured into small scale business by becoming an Ezypesa agent which earns me a decent income.” Mosha says his ambition now is to get a small loan, expand his Ezypesa business and forget about craving for elusive public sector job openings