The monopoly of Tanzania’s incumbent TTCL will end on 22 February 2005 and the country is set to be the next African nation to enter the era of competition. The shape of what’s to come has begun to emerge from the stakeholders consultation workshop it held recently with the sector which one of those attending said had drawn “mixed responses”.

The new licensing regime will work within the framework of the existing Act although there is a new Act already under discussion although that is unlikely to be in place for several years. TCRA sees this as a “challenging period” but is keen to ensure that there is not a vacuum when the monopoly ends.

The new regulatory framework will be “technology-neutral” and therefore VoIP services will be legalised although they will still need to work with licensed international gateways to stay within the regulations. However, the regulator would be happy to see more international gateways licensed, including for mobile operators. The regulator would like to see the licences segregated into three different types: services, applications and content. The country’s “second incumbent” Zantel which has thus far only be able to operate on Zanzibar will be able to operate throughout Tanzania.

The regulator TCRA intends to create geographically-defined district licences to spread coverage out to areas currently without service. These licences will come with financial incentives. There will be a Rural Telecoms Development Fund but it has not yet been decided whether this fund will be run the regulator or independently. TCRA is also seeking to create a database of ICT infrastructure in the country, particularly recording fibre capacity. It is anxious to licence fibre owned by gas, water, electricity and railway companies.