BUSINESS

CONNECT AFRICA POISED TO REVOLUTIONISE RURAL TELECOMS COVERAGE

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Zambian low-cost rural communications provider set to expand across the continent

Department of Communications Assistant Director of Technical Services Sechwayo Nzima (centre) officially opens Connect Africa’s new Lusaka office, flanked by Connect Africa chairman Ian McFadyen (left) and Special Projects Director Dion Jerling.

Department of Communications Assistant Director of Technical Services Sechwayo Nzima (centre) officially opens Connect Africa’s new Lusaka office, flanked by Connect Africa chairman Ian McFadyen (left) and Special Projects Director Dion Jerling.

Zambia’s pioneering rural telecommunications equipment and solutions company, Connect Africa, officially opened its Lusaka office on July 26, paving the way for a roll-out of services across the region.

The company has chosen Zambia as its hub, which it plans to use as the springboard from which to launch its low-cost entrepreneur-driven information and communications technology (ICT) services to rural communities across southern Africa.

“Connect Africa is pioneering a new model of service delivery that puts rural people in control of their communications needs,” explained Connect Africa Special Projects Director Dion Jerling. “We see Zambia as the leading example of how state-of-the art technology can be harnessed to connect remote communities to the mobile phone network, empowering them to develop their livelihoods as a result.”

Mr Jerling was speaking at the formal opening ceremony for the company’s new office in Leopard’s Hill attended by senior government officials, industry executives and other dignitaries.

The company is aiming to connect rural communities to existing mobile networks through the deployment of innovative low-cost base stations that enable rural communities to share in the mobile boom that is sweeping through Africa.

Connect Africa harnesses Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit and recent innovations in GSM technology infrastructure to enable rural people and rural communities across Africa to improve their quality of life and economic well-being.

Delivery of education, agriculture and health services, along with other public and private sector services to rural communities, will be enhanced by the new connectivity, which uses pioneering “low tower, low power” technology. This, combined with the Connect Africa Service Centre concept, will create jobs and enhance rural communities as well as providing a tool for government to gather feedback on the effectiveness of its services.

The strategy is part of Connect Africa’s “impact enterprise” model that aims to leverage innovative communication technologies for socio-economic development across Africa and beyond.

Key to the model are service centres at each base station, run by local entrepreneurs who are able to provide services such as internet access, phone charging and business services to the community.

The low-cost base stations also keep capital costs to a minimum, enabling construction to be funded through a revenue-sharing model based on income generation.

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