New Phone Company Takes Off in Uganda

Telecoms

A new telecom company, the Saudi-based Hits Telecom, has started operating in Uganda alongside MTN, Uganda telecom and Celtel. Its local partner is Veritus Communications. "Clearly, there is need to increase the network capacity in Uganda to meet the existing as well as the future demand of subscribers," explained Edwin Rodwell, the company's chief executive.

Hits officials yesterday met President Yoweri Museveni at State House Nakasero. The President was reportedly impressed by their investment plan, according to a State House statement. Rodwell explained that operations would start before the Commonwealth meeting in November.

"We believe that the demand for services right now outstrips the supply and that is why we have a lot of dropped calls. The penetration in Uganda is just 8%, yet the per capita income is higher than countries with a penetration of 15%. So what we want is to bring telephone to every Ugandan," he said.

He said the company would introduce the latest technology, which will be linked to the national fibre network currently under construction. He noted that Hits would also extend network coverage to remote rural areas.

"All over the world, the expansion of the number of operators and the associated competition drives down tariffs and improves service for the customers. Uganda will not be an exception to this principle," asserted Rodwell.

The company chairman, Farahad Bakhtiar, said Hits would invest about $150m this year, with an additional $50m expected in the first quarter of next year. Hits forecasts a direct labour force of 600 people, 90% of whom will be Ugandans. Hits Telecom operates in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and has been licensed in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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