Facebook, Airtel Uganda and BCS to develop infrastructure in Uganda

08 October 2018 | Natalie Bannerman

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Facebook, Airtel Uganda and Bandwidth & Cloud Services Group (BCS) are partnering to develop telecoms infrastructure in Uganda.

Under the terms of the agreement a total of approximately 800km of optical fibre will be laid in North West Uganda, covering the areas of Gulu, Adjumani, Arua, Koboko, Nebbi and Kamdini. The project will be joint funded by Airtel, BCS and Facebook.

In attendance at the signing ceremony was Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s African public policy manager. Yonas Maru, managing director of Bandwidth & Cloud Services Group (BCS), a wholesale bandwidth provider focused on deploying infrastructure in East Africa and Anwar Soussa, manging director of Airtel Uganda. Bagiire Vincent Waiswa, permanent secretary of Uganda’s ICT Ministry, witnessed the contract signing.

“We need more investment in data, because that is where the global community is heading,” said Bagiire.

Soussa says that once the project is complete it will provide backhaul connectivity that covers more than 3 million people in Uganda as well as enable future cross-border connectivity to neighbouring countries.

“This will help improve performance and support upgrades to 3G and 4G in areas where operators are bandwidth-constrained,” said 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.”

The news comes over a month after Godfrey Mutabazi, executive director of Uganda’s Communications Commission visited Facebook to discuss future collaborations. Though the infrastructure project was originally launched back in 2017.

“ICT is the fastest-growing economic element in Uganda and with appropriate partnerships like the one we are witnessing this morning,” said Mutabazi. “We the regulator are pleased that the under-served rural communities of Uganda are getting access to ICT.”

In related news, last month Facebook announced that it was working with the Internet Society to expand exchange points across Africa with the aim of sourcing 80% of content within the continent by 2020. The company and the non-profit society said they wanted to expand the number of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). There are no IXPs in 42% of African countries at the moment, they said.