The government has issued a telecommunications operating licence to Al-Warid, a Dubai-based telecommunication company. The Minister of Information Communications Technology Ham Mukasa Mulira, officially handed over the licence to the company's Chief Executive Officer Zul Javaid at the Uganda Communications Communication (UCC) offices last Wednesday.

The company now joins House of Integrated Technology (HITS) Telecom, which was also officially cleared a week ago. Dr Mulira said the Public Service Provider licence allows the operators to provide the cellular (mobile) services, fixed voice services, Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite (GMPCS) services and Internet access services, which include IP Telephony + Virtual Private Networks) and Internet Exchange Services (IXPS) among others. Javaid told Daily Monitor that the company would start operations in Uganda in the next six to seven months.

"When launch, our services will be in the area of high speed Internet broad band, voice services, data plus the usual telecommunications service," he said. He said they have nine million subscribers and they would be launchng the biggest network in Bangladesh in April. He said the company also operates in Congo Brazzaville and was looking at eight other countries in Africa. Officials said the company had duly fulfilled all the stipulated licence requirements.

Mulira said the licensing of new players is a unique opportunity for all the operators to open doors for innovation. He said a three-pronged approach has been adopted for the establishment of a national ICT backbone infrastructure through the Rural Communications Development Programme, which would realise its major development targets over the next fours years.

The Monitor

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