The senior executive of Abu Dhabi based Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) the investment and increased use of satellite communication will enable Tanzania to unlock numerous economic potential.
Speaking recently in Dar es Salaam, the Chief Commercial Officer of the broadband satellite provider, Farhad Khan, said significant growth in internet penetration and usage can create more socio-economic opportunities especially for upcountry people and those living in the remotest parts.
Quoting a recent report by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), he said that about two fifths of Tanzanians now have access to the internet with most of them being rural dwellers. According to the regulator’s September 2017 Quarterly Communications Statistics report, the number of internet users increased about fourfold from 5.31 million in 2011 to 19.86 million last year.
With 18 million people, mobile wireless was the most used internet service technology followed by fixed wireless that had 1.21 million users and then fixed wired. During the five year period, internet penetration went up from 12 per cent in 2011 to 40 per cent in 2016.
Khan said deployment of satellite technology in Tanzania and other African countries has greatly helped to change the lives of many people. According to him, those who were unserved and under-served in rural areas are now enjoying the benefits of connectivity.
“One significant outcome of this growth in internet penetration and usage has been the creation of more socio-economic opportunities. However, for people living outside of large urban areas, the opportunity to connect to the internet and take advantage of all the prospects it offers remains limited,” Khan noted.
“Helping to connect the unconnected is satellite broadband which is a far more viable internet alternative for these communities in comparison to a fixed-line solution. Since satellite broadband is not subject to the same physical and infrastructure limitations of cable-based systems, it can significantly improve connectivity in rural areas for individuals and businesses,” he added.
Khan also said that satellite connectivity facilitated real-time access to South Africa pensioners’ data a thing which is giving them the opportunity to manage their finances online, something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
He also said neighbouring Kenya provides an example of how satellite connectivity can transform a country’s healthcare industry. In Kiambu County, satellite connectivity has contributed to quicker and more effective patient care through the sharing of knowledge and resources via satellite broadband.
“Through the availability of internet connectivity and the implementation of new software, the local healthcare facilities are now able to share critical information, which helps them better manage patient inquiries, and handle cases in the clinics.
“Since medical records are now available to connected healthcare facilities within the county, anyone can go to the nearest facility and receive the consultation and medicine they need within a matter of minutes. This is saving patient’s time that would have otherwise been spent travelling,” he said.
The official also mentioned other benefits of satellite connectivity which Kenya is enjoying as education, whereby students are now able to access vast amounts of e-learning tools with a simple click of a button. Information that is essential to learn, grow and pursue their ambitions is now more readily available.
“These are just some of the first-hand benefits that satellite connectivity is bringing to communities and individuals across Africa and here in Tanzania with the continued rollout of connectivity across the country.
“Satellite broadband has the capacity to jumpstart the process of giving Tanzanian communities access to more services, and changing for the better the way children are educated or healthcare is provided,” Khan said
He urged the government, technology partners and businesses to work together to support the rapid deployment of high-speed satellite connectivity across Tanzania, especially in rural areas, and place previously remote communities at the heart of the next generation of the country’s connectivity deployment.