Mobile phone firms decry dollar charges

Vodacom Tanzania has blamed the rising cost of doing business in the country on the frequency band charges pegged on foreign currencies.

Vodacom Tanzania Managing Director Rene Meza said in Dar es Salaam that the charges on hard currencies add unnecessary burden to end users adversely affect US and wondered why Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) was not charging on local currency.

He described the frequencies as natural reservoir with no additional operating costs. 

“We pay frequency fees to TCRA, yet the frequencies are natural reservoir,” Mr Meza told ‘Daily News’ in an interview, “There is no need to charge in US Dollar because we operate in Tanzania and charge the local currency.”

Mr Meza said apart from poor infrastructure, electricity and unavailability of skilled labour in the telecoms industry, Tanzania remains one of the heavily taxed in the telecoms sector in the East and central Africa. 

But, TCRA has refuted the allegation saying they were neither imposing nor charging frequency in US dollars as claimed.

TCRA’s Manager of Corporate Communications Innocent Mungy said the frequency charges quoted in US dollar are contained in the (licensing) regulations of 2011 made under Electronic and Postal communication Act of 2010. 

“The operators were dully consulted and had more than a month to submit their comments,” Mr Mungy said, adding “Frequencies must be efficiently used because they are a finite scare national resource.”

He said, “Although the rates are quoted in dollars, operators are free to pay in Tanzania shilling and most if not all do so.” 

TCRA discourage complains through the media, saying there were elaborate consultation forums between the regulator and stakeholders.

Mr Mungy denied claims that Tanzania has the highest taxes in East Africa, “Frequency user charges in Tanzania are actually the very low compared to other countries.” 

TCRA regulates and assigns mobile phone providers frequency bundles through which they channel their telephone transactions.
Source: The Daily News,http://www.dailynews.co.tz, reported by Abduel Elinaza
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