Good progress on Tanzanian ICT backbone
By Hudson Kazonta, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tanzania is expanding its National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) Project to connect all its regions and districts, giving them access to the 10,000km-long national and regional broadband infrastructure as well as to the undersea cable landing on its shores.
The Minister of Communication, Science and Technology of Tanzania, Prof. Makame Mbarawa, said this during a meeting on International Broadband Fiber connectivity between Tanzania and Malawi recently.
The Malawian delegation was led by the minister for Information and Civil Education, Patricia Kaliati. The delegates envisioned shared links to the new undersea cables.
Mbarawa said the broadband backbone technology is not highly resilient to bad weather but it possesses better characteristics, such as its high bandwidth capacity, compactness, low transmission losses, high signal security, immunity to interference and cross-talk, system reliability and ease of maintenance which are among the most important ones and make it more efficient and reliable for communication use over satellite-based communications.
Talking about financial resources, he said funds for the initial two phases (Phase I & II) of the NICTBB project come from three main sources: TSH 30 billion from the development budget of the Government of Tanzania, a USD 170 million concessional loan from the Government of China and some USD100 million from revenues generated from NICTBB operations.
He said other financial sources amounting to approximately USD80 million are expected to come from public-private partnership arrangements with existing service providers in the sector. These funds are earmarked for rolling out a national duct system and metro networks within major cities and urban centres, as well as the fibre-optic links that are not contracted within Phases I and II of the project.
The project was effectively launched on 1st February 2009 and by June, 2010 Phase I was completed with 4,300km of fiber backbone operational. Phase II became effective from 1st August, 2010 and to date the construction of 3,000km of fiber backbone and installation of transmission equipment is complete, awaiting Provisional Acceptance Tests (PAT) planned to commence on 1 April, 2012.
He said as a model of political stability in the East Africa region, as a strategically located country geographically, and as a country with an effective licensing and regulatory framework, Tanzania is geared to become an ICT regional hub when it assures the reliability of the International connectivity such as the one to Malawi.
Tanzania continues to address the enabling factors which include expansion of the national ICT backbone infrastructure, more landing points for the submarine fibre-optic cables, ICT human resource development, and pro-ICT policies.