By Amara Alpha Outreach Officer, Strategic Communications Unit-MIC
8th December 2022, Dodoma, Tanzania
A delegation from the Universal Access Development Fund (UADF) in Sierra Leone, has visited the Head office of the Universal Communications Service Fund (ACSAF) in Dodoma, the New Capital City of Tanzania Republic, to gain knowledge that can be used for the development and transformation of rural connectivity in Sierra Leone. Digital technology has vastly improved in Sierra Leone in the past four years, under the leadership of the New Direction Government of His Excellency, Dr. Julius Maada Bio. The UADF project is hosted in the Ministry of Information and Communications, under the supervision of the Minister of Information and Communications, Hon Mohamed Rahman Swaray.
The UADF delegation from Sierra Leone would use the opportunity to study how the Universal Communications Service Access Fund of Tanzania (UCSAF) is connecting rural areas with digital communications infrastructures, in order to replicate it in Sierra Leone.
Welcoming the Sierra Leonean Delegation, the Chief Executive Officer of UCSAF Tanzania, Ms. Justina Mashiba catalogued some of the successes and challenges of UCSAF, since it was established in 2006 by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania through an Act of Parliament. She also revealed that in 2009, the Fund's regulators were adopted, making the Fund operational on 1st July 2009.
She said the main purpose of the establishment of the Fund was to provide telecommunications services in rural and Urban areas to facilitate socio-economic development and also provide access to communication services in underserved areas.
She said that UCSAF, received funds from a Government subvention, and Service Levies from Licensed Service Providers, who were charged 1% of their quarterly Gross Communication Income, adding that they also received a contribution from TCRA and grants/loans from Donors, amounting to $30m and $27m respectively.
On their successes, she said that UCSAF has provided Telecommucations services to 1,060 wards with 3,334 villages out of 1, 235 wards with 3,641 villages, adding that the remaining 175 wards are in different stages of implementation. She also revealed that the construction of 11 telecenters in Zanzibar and 11 in the Mainland, including an ICT training for 3,467 Teachers is ongoing.
0n their challenges, Ms. Justina Mashiba said that UCSAF has had to deal with inadequate electricity in the rural areas, lack of adequate infrastructure, and funding.
Hon Boston, chairman of Information and Communications Committee, in Parliament of Sierra Leone, said that they are happy to compare notes for the transformation of more rural connectivity in Sierra Leone. He added that a digitalized Sierra Leone is the vision of His Excellency, Dr. Julius Maada Bio and that is why every effort is being made to achieve it.
“We appreciate the staff of UCSAF for giving us the knowledge and we will utilize it for the betterment of UADF Sierra Leone” he said.
The engagement was climaxed by Questions and Answers from both country teams.