Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and India charge more.
Tanzania enjoys one of the lowest voice rates per minute on the continent. The rate is comparatively low in contrast to Kenya at Tshs 80/-, Ghana Tshs 80.4/- and Nigeria Tsh 96/- per minute. Prior to the recent price increase, the blended average price of Tsh 23/- per minute was one of the the lowest in the world.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam, Vodacom Tanzania’s Managing Director Rene Meza said his company has continually maintained low prices because it believes that access to communication services is a right that should be enjoyed by all and not a luxury.
Meza further said that 2014 was a great year for his company on many fronts and he would like to thank Vodacom customers for their continued loyalty and support…Customers made 45% more calls at significantly reduced rates. In addition to this, over 1.7 million Tanzanians chose Vodacom as their preferred communication services provider in 2014.
“Close to 50% of our customers use data today. This has in turn tripled internet usage on our network. We have more than 5.5 million customers who access the internet through their phones. The number of smart phone users on our network has grown by over 200% over the last year. We now have over one million smartphones that are active on our network. We are therefore, a very active contributor to our country’s endeavor to create a knowledge based society.”
We need to invest in the enhancement of our network so as to continue to cater for the current and expected growth. We have several challenges that we face today…we are both a capital intensive industry and are very heavily taxed at 38.1%. This to an extent affects our ability to generate funds for reinvestment in the business. We were offering some of our products at below cost and are now realigning them so as to recoup some of our costs...,” he said.
“Vodacom offers a variety of very competitive products in the market. We have an array of very competitive packages that allow our customers to make calls, send SMS and browse the internet from as low as Tshs 500/- . For Internet, Vodacom offers many options in daily, weekly, and monthly categories, to suit all customers’ needs. After the changes, Vodacom now charges Tshs 4.9/- per MB in a 5GB bundle, as compared to our former price of Tshs 3.9/- Per /MB for the same.. This is still one of the lowest prices per MB for the same product (5GB) within other key emerging markets - Nigeria charging Tshs 17/-, South Africa is Tshs 13/-, Kenya Tshs 12/-, Ghana 7/- and India is at T-shs 5/-, says Meza.
With regards to how his company was performing in other areas, Meza said M-Pesa users now stand over at 6 million and transact approximately Tshs 1.7 Trillion/- every month. “Our M-Pesa Wakala network has a national reach and is over 85,000 agent-strong. The phenomenal growth that we had in 2014 is reflected in our contribution to government revenue. We are now the 2nd largest payer in the country and the top in the telecoms sector,” he says.
“We invested Tshs 180 bn/- in our network in 2014 and this had a tremendous impact on our network as evidenced by the phenomenal growth that I mentioned earlier. Our 2015 planned investment of Tshs140 billion /- will therefore, cover 2G and 3G network expansion, Products and Services, IT Infrastructure as well as the enhancement of our M-Pesa service. This is crucial to the financial inclusion agenda because we are committed to playing a part in enabling Tanzania achieve its targeted middle income by 2025,” said Meza.
On future growth, Meza said investment in the mobile communication services sector is capital intensive and continues to be hampered by, among other things, the existing energy infrastructure which requires telecom companies to connect most of their sites to generators running on fuel. Rural coverage despite the challenges that come with it, remains a priority for Vodacom Tanzania. “We believe this is where growth in the telecommunications industry will come from in the next decade. We have to date contributed in excess of the Tshs 4.5477bn/- to the Universal Communication Services Access Fund (UCSAF), “he says.
In addition to UCSAF sites we have over 1300 sites in rural areas. All the regions and most districts in Tanzania now have 3 G coverage. “As smart phone user’s increase, so too will our 3 G footprint continue to expand across the country. Nevertheless, we continue to see a lot more whatsApp users in rural areas – a clear indication of the increasing uptake of technology in rural areas.”