South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardiit on Monday launched the first-ever locally-owned mobile telecom operator.
The Digitel Network, the third telco in the country, is expected to fast-track connectivity of areas previously not served by foreign-owned telecom firms.
In his remarks, President Kiir said his government is committed to bringing mobile services to remote areas. He noted that South Sudan needs to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of digital technology.
“The installation of mobile service infrastructure is an ongoing process. Recently people in Maper, Rumbek North County and Pochalla in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area have been connected to a mobile network.
“I have been informed that in three weeks’ time, Boma in the Greater Pibor Administrative area and Kuron Peace Village in Kapoeta East County will also be connected to the mobile network,” said Mr Kiir.
The President said the developments came as a result of government partnerships with the private sector.
“To demonstrate seriousness in the desire to connect rural communities to mobile networks, the government will explore options, including tax exemption that will benefit importation of network equipment and other telecommunications tools.
“This equipment will help increase digital literacy programmes for the next generation ICT-driven economy. The tax exemption I am proposing will be done in collaboration with the national revenue authority to ensure modalities for tax exemption are consistent with its mandate” Mr Kiir said.
Digitel joins South Africa’s MTN and Kuwait’s Zain in the South Sudan telecom market. Lebanese Vivacell was closed by the government in 2016 over alleged unpaid arrears.
Athiei De Chan Awuol, Executive Vice President for Digitel said that the company is committed to delivering digital services across the country.
“For us to launch our telecom services and products at 10 years of our independence anniversary shows that South Sudanese can contribute towards a bright future for ourselves, for our children and for the next generation," said Mr Awuol.
He noted that the launch of Digitel demonstrates the commitment of South Sudanese to develop their country, adding that since 2011 the government has been working hard to attract foreign investors.
- Additional reporting by Xinhua