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TowerCo of Africa unveils $40m rural Uganda initiative

By , Africa editor
Uganda , 08 Mar 2024
Stephane Beuvelet leads TowerCo of Africa group as CEO.
Stephane Beuvelet leads TowerCo of Africa group as CEO.

TowerCo of Africa yesterday launched an initiative to build more than 500 new telecom towers to improve access to services in rural Uganda.

The towers will be built over the next two years, and the rural telecom expansion programme is expected to generate 2,000 skilled and unskilled jobs in local communities during the development process.

The $40 million project has garnered the financial backing of the European Investment Bank, with backing from the ACP Trust Fund, which has agreed to pay $16 million. The remaining money will come from the development banks of Austria and Belgium, each putting in $12 million.

The 10-year financing will be used to build new telecom towers in rural areas that now lack mobile network service or where existing mobile networks are congested.

According to a press release, this agreement represents a significant step forward in Uganda's efforts to close the digital divide, provide new opportunities for rural areas, and promote long-term development.

TowerCo of Africa Uganda said that the upgraded telecom infrastructure will be fuelled primarily by renewable energy and will transform access to 4G and 5G Internet and mobile money services, thereby improving financial inclusion.

It stated that only 65% of Uganda now has mobile network coverage, and the new investment emphasises the need to address coverage difficulties and will play an important role in attaining the country's 95% coverage goal.

The company said: “The 506 new towers will be shared by multiple mobile network operators, addressing challenges that have historically hindered telecom expansion in rural areas, ensuring commercial viability for network expansion and providing more comprehensive and inclusive network access for rural communities.

“A significant portion of the new towers will be powered by solar energy, reducing the risk of fuel and generator theft, and aligning with TowerCo of Africa Uganda dedication to responsible infrastructure development and climate action.”

Geoffrey Donnels Oketayot, CEO, TowerCo of Africa Uganda, said: “The deployment of hundreds of new telecom towers across Uganda will make a significant leap towards ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital age.”

Thomas Östros, VP, European Investment Bank, said: “Bridging the digital divide is a key focus of the EU Global Gateway initiative and crucial for inclusive development, and this partnership where the bank is involved with both project and development finance partners exemplifies our shared commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of rural populations.”

The Global Gateway is the EU's contribution to reducing the global investment gap. It is in line with the G7 leaders' promise to create a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership to address global infrastructure development requirements beginning in June 2021.

Ambassador Jan Sadek, head, European Union Delegation to Uganda, said: “Increasing access to digital infrastructure is a key focus of Global Gateway. This visionary new telecom investment by TowerCo of Africa Uganda, backed by European development finance partners, overcomes barriers holding back mobile network investment and will unlock digitalisation and telecommunications opportunities for rural communities across the country.”

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