Google Uganda partners to power African SMEs with Roke and NITA
Google Uganda has announced enhancements to Project Link in Ghana, the second country in the network.
The network will span over 1,000km in Ghana across two cities: Accra and Kumasi. In 2016 Google Uganda’s focus has been on rolling out the network and driving commercialisation of WiFi with partners such as Roke and NITA.
Last December, Google Uganda publicly launched a wholesale Wifi network, available to all licensed providers in Uganda to allow them to access a “plug and play” Wifi network from which they can deliver HotSpot and fixed wireless services at over 300 locations across Kampala and Entebbe.
The main challenges for Google Uganda have been around the lack of clear regulation and policy governing infrastructure sharing in the industry and the high cost of running networks due to unstable power and unplanned road infrastructure.
To tackle the policy challenge their approach has been to work actively with regulators and policy makers to share best practices and lessons learnt from other countries where infrastructure sharing has been successfully provisioned for in the legal framework.
"As far as high costs of running the business, unfortunately many of these issues are not within our power to improve! For the time being we have 24-7-365 power supply composed of a main line, generator, and battery backup at our hub sites. We hope over time the infrastructure in Kampala improves such that we and other businesses can operate without having to use these costly safety measures," said Google Uganda's Suzan Kitariko.
“Our current focus has been on helping our partners break into the SME and residential market with fibre solutions. Currently fibre connectivity is the “luxury” of primarily big enterprises, however we believe with innovative business models and technology we can enable a lower cost solution that even small businesses can afford. As far as expansion... well, we have big plans coming up - stay tuned!”
The major trend Google Uganda sees as important is improved connectivity solutions for the SME market. SMEs power the economy in Africa, and yet for a long time they say this segment has been neglected due to their limited purchasing power. Today, however, with more affordable data plans with value added services to cater to this market, as well as low-cost fibre solutions this improving. Google Uganda is working closely with its partners to better understand this market segment’s needs to develop affordable fixed and wireless solutions.