DAR ES SALAAM, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The number of internet users in Tanzania rose by 16 percent at the end of 2017 to 23 million, with the majority of those using their handsets to go online, the telecom industry regulator said on Friday.
Mobile phone use has surged in Tanzania and other African countries over the past decade, helped by the launch of cheaper smartphones and data services.
Around 19 million internet users in Tanzania accessed the world wide web last year through their mobile phones, up from 18 million in 2016, the state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) said in a report.
Internet penetration in the nation of around 52 million people ticked up to 45 percent in 2017 from 40 percent a year before, according to the regulator.
Tanzania, east Africa’s third-biggest economy, had 40.08 million mobile phone subscribers last year, down slightly from 40.17 million a year earlier.
Major mobile phone operators in Tanzania include Vodacom Tanzania, a unit of South Africa’s Vodacom, Tigo Tanzania, which is part of Sweden’s Millicom, Bharti Airtel Tanzania, and Halotel, owned by Vietnam-based telecoms operator Viettel.
The fast-growing sector has been hit by tighter regulations and a price war among the operators in recent years.
Mobile network operators said they were complying with a government-imposed requirement for all telecom companies to list at least 25 percent of their shares locally.
Tanzania hopes mandatory listing of telecom companies will improve transparency and offer the public a share in the industry’s profits.
Vodacom, the industry leader, became the first telecom firm to list on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) in Aug. Its initial public offering (IPO) was fully subscribed, raising around $213 million. (Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; Editing by George Obulutsa)