US-based social networking site Facebook signed an agreement Tuesday with a private telephone company in Uganda to improve the telecom infrastructure in the country, over a month after the industry regulator, Uganda Communications Commission Executive Director Mr. Godfrey Mutabazi visited the tech giants over possible collaborations.
The agreement was announced at Kampala Serena Hotel by Mr. Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s African Public Policy manager, Mr. Yonas Maru – Managing Director of Bandwidth & Cloud Services Group (BCS), a wholesale bandwidth provider focused on deploying infrastructure in East Africa and Mr. Anwar Soussa – Airtel Uganda’s Managing Director and was witnessed by Mr. Bagiire Vincent Waiswa – Permanent Secretary of Uganda’s ICT Ministry alongside Mr. Mutabazi.
The investment will see a total of nearly 800 KM of optical fiber laid in North West Uganda – covering Gulu, Adjumani, Arua, Koboko, Nebbi and Kamdini areas – which will be funded jointly by Airtel, BCS and Facebook.
According to Airtel’s Anwar Soussa, when completed, the project will provide backhaul connectivity covering more than 3 million people in Uganda and enable future cross-border connectivity to neighboring countries.
“This will help improve performance and support upgrades to 3G and 4G in areas where operators are bandwidth-constrained,” said Mr. Soussa adding, “We at Airtel believe that internet is the future and as such have invested heavily to ensure that our customers are part of the future now.”
Uganda has a population of 13 million mobile subscribers, with a growing consumption for data and internet services from telecoms.
“ICT is the fastest-growing economic element in Uganda and with appropriate partnerships like the one we are witnessing this morning,” said Mr. Godfrey Mutabazi.
He added: “We the regulator are pleased that the under-served rural communities of Uganda are getting access to ICT.”
According to the Uganda government, the investment will foster growth in the North West region of the country.
“We need more investment in data, because that is where the global community is heading,” Mr. Bagiire said.