MTN telecom to expand South Sudan coverage

By The Eastafrican

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South African telecom operator MTN has promised to expand its operations in South Sudan to tap into the rising demand for the mobile services.

MTN head of corporate services in Juba Khumbulani Dhlomo, however, admitted that the operator was grappling with numerous challenges emanating from the prolonged civil war.

Mr Dhlomo said the challenges included the economic downturn and insecurity to connect the entire country. The shutdown of Vivacell mobile network has also presented a huge burden to MTN to enhance its capacity to cater for over a million subscribers.

“There is a bit of too much demand for everything that we have not planned for. The most affected people are our customers because they seem not to be able to get what they want at the time they want,” Mr Dhlomo said in Juba.

He disclosed that MTN’s major projects such as the building of about 40 towers countrywide were halted by the conflict.

“Our ability to quickly expand the network is going to be a challenge to us, but we will remain put and improve our services,” he said.

MTN spent $170 million on the South Sudan network infrastructure from 2014-2015 but has made no profit since 2012, he said.

MTN is the second largest mobile operator in South Sudan after Vivacell with over 800,000 subscribers.

The subscribers could increase as Vivacell mobile network was closed down in March over tax dispute with the government.

South Sudan attained its independence from Sudan in 2011, but descended into civil war in 2013.

The country’s economic mainstay, oil, suffered doubled tragedy from the impact of the civil strife and the collapse of the global prices.