For Online E-newspaper
The East African : Oct 24th 2015
36 The EastAfrican BUSINESS OCTOBER 24-30,2015 Tanzania allows Viettel to lay its own fib≥e optic cable By ERICK KABENDERA The EastAfrican W ith the entry of Vietnam’s state-owned tel- ecoms operator Viettel into Tanzania, the government will now allow independent players to lay fiber optic cable, previously its preserve. Prof Makame Mbarawa, Minister for Communication, Science and Technology, said the company would help increase the number of Tanzanians able to access 3G Internet services across the country. “Viettel has commit- Surveys reveal that informal cross-border trade, conducted largely by women, represents a significant proportion of regional trade in sub-Saharan Africa. Picture: File Why investing in women’s ability to t≥ade makes sense A ccording to the 2013 Society for International Development report, The Future of Inequality in East Africa, gains from EAC integration could be hampered by the growing inequality gap in the region. Half of the population of the EAC, representing 71 million people, lives on $1.6 a day. There is evidence that women bear the brunt of poverty but their empowerment is a central precondition for poverty’s elimination. According to the World Trade Organisation, there is a strong correlation between increased international trade and increases in female employment in exports, connection to markets and often higher wages in export-oriented industries. Analyses of several countries have even argued that each country’s economic development is “as much female-led as it is export-led.” Supported by the Nether- lands government, and presided over by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, TradeMark East Africa on October 15 launched the $4.5 million “Women and Trade Programme’’ to run till December 2016, with a second five-year phase of an additional $10 million to commence in 2017. Targeting 25,000 women in its first phase, the programme’s goal is to increase incomes and improve livelihoods for women traders and women-owned enterprises by strengthening the enabling environment for COMMENTARY LISA KARANJA “If women had the same access to resources, they could produce 20-30pc more food.” women traders, facilitating the removal of the internal impediments to trade faced by women and proactively promoting the ‘’voice’’ and participation of women in export and trade in East Africa. In many countries in Af- rica, the majority of small farmers are women, producing crops such as maize, cassava, cotton and rice. These have enormous potential for increased trade between African countries and the global market. In 2010, women made up 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force of developing countries and dominated employment in high-value agricultural commodities in sub-Saharan Africa. Surveys also reveal that informal cross-border trade, conducted largely by women, represents a significant proportion of regional crossborder trade in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, in Uganda, informal exports flowing into its five neighbouring countries were estimated to account for $231.7 million in 2006, corresponding to around 86 per cent of Uganda’s official export flows into these countries. Despite this, East Africa’s trade potential is undermined by constraints that women face, including various specific non-tariff barriers that impinge particularly heavily on the trade activities of women and women-owned enterprises, and often push women traders and producers into the informal economy where lack of access to finance, information, and networks jeopardise their capacity to grow and develop their business. Gender inequality in ac- cess to and control of a wide range of assets and resources remains pervasive: Women farmers tend to produce 20 to 30 per cent less than their male counterparts because they have less access to vital inputs such as seeds, fertilisers and tools. Responsive trade policies are needed to provide a level playing field for the effective participation of women in domestic and international trade. Investing in women’s abil- ity to trade and do business makes sense; strategic interventions can result in what has been described in a recent report The Numbers on Women: The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, 2014 as “an astonish- ing cascade of positive benefits to whole nations….’’ Increased entrepreneur- ship and labour force participation additionally leads to income generation, improved social status, wealth creation and slower population growth. According to the World Bank report Engendering Development, women reinvest up to 90 per cent of their income in the education, health and nutrition of their family and community compared with 30 to 40 per cent for men. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation further notes that if women had the same access to productive resources, they could produce 20 to 30 per cent more food, translating into up to 150 million fewer hungry people. Some benefits of TMEA’s own women and trade programming in Rwanda demonstrate that with increases in revenue, women are now able to afford medical insurance and education costs for their children. Women play a key role in trade in East Africa and could potentially contribute towards further positioning trade as a key driver of growth, employment and poverty reduction. This is an investment worth making, giving thousands of women the opportunity to not only join, but lead East Africa’s growth. The autho≥ is senio≥ di≥ecto≥, business competitiveness at T≥adeMa≥k East Af≥ica Previously, only the government and its affiliates could carry out the laying of fibre optic cable. Picture: File ments with the government to provide fibre connectivity to more than 850 public institutions,” Prof Mbarawa said. Mobile phone players are now asking the government to introduce a standardised system of building towers after Viettel, operating Halotel, introduced cheap towers. The EastAfrican learnt introduced that Viettel its own antennas after the country’s utility company Tanesco refused to allow Viettel use of its poles to reach clients in areas covered by Tanesco. “Tanesco wanted to charge the company $3.75 for each pole so the deal collapsed — but had it gone through, it would have meant that 3G would have reached all manner of places,” sources said. In Mozambique, where the company launched three years ago, the cost of mobile phone services has fallen by 50 per cent and Viettel is currently the leading operator. Major mobile phone net- works in Tanzania currently provide as much as 1GB of Internet use for US 50 cents in special 24-hour bundles. The special rates are offered by Vodacom Tanzania, Airtel Tanzania, Tigo, Zantel as well as state-owned TTCL. Viettel has maintained that it will invest $1 billion and will cover over 80 per cent of the population. In Mozambique, it operates as Movitel, a joint initiative and Mozambique’s direct investment company, SPI. By February, Movitel has laid 25,000 kilometres of fiber optical cables, reaching nearly 80 per cent of Mozambique’s population. Halotel chief execu- tive Nguyen Quang said that the company had created over 22,000 jobs. At the official launch of the company last week, Mr Quang 25,000 in kilometres in fibre optic cable have been laid by a Viettel-linked firm in Mozambique said that they would reach 1,500 villages while 30,000 schools would get free Internet services. According to Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority, there were 31.86 million mobile phone users in Tanzania by 2014, but this number has risen to 36 million this year. The number of Internet users was 11.35 million people by 2013 but has surged significantly due to the advent of smartphones. Meanwhile, sources at Bank of Tanzania told The EastAfrican that Halotel has been awarded a licence to operate mobile money transfer services known as V-money.
Oct 17th 2015
Oct 31st 2015