In an interesting example of cooperation to avoid duplication, Tanzania is planning to use electricity infrastructure to deploy broadband services.
More precisely, the country’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has signed a partnership deal with the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) to extend broadband connectivity using Tanesco’s already-installed infrastructure.
According to the Tanzanian Daily News website, this approach will triple the pace at which fibre optic internet connectivity is being delivered in the country.
Official figures show that national optical fibre connectivity is currently 8,319 kilometres, just over half the government target of 15,000 kilometres by the end of this year.
According to the Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, the ministry’s plan is to ensure that at least 94 per cent of Tanzania’s citizens have access to broadband coverage. This presumably includes wireless connectivity: reports indicate a current internet reach of a little under 30 million people (the population is just over 61 million), the majority via mobile phones.
Another issue is the high cost of data. The cost per Mbps is estimated at $5, a price that could come down if fixed broadband is extended.
The plan is for TTCL to use Tanesco’s electric poles to distribute its fibre optic cables nationwide. Tanesco is currently linking dozens of districts to the national grid by building large-scale power distribution lines. The hope is that every home with electricity connectivity will also have internet access.
This new partnership should add more than ten regions in the Tanzanian mainland to the 21 that so far have fibre connectivity. There appears to be no precise timeline for the expansion, though the communications ministry and TTCL are said to believe it will at some stage expand broadband to at least 4,449.7km, more than twice the 1,880km targeted for the financial year 2021/22.