TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

- Me banza-Kongo, the capital of the West province of Congo DRC has had since Monday a new mobile service with "Movicel". With an initial capacity of two thousand subscribers and a coverage of around 20 kilometres, this system has cost $2 millions. After Soyo, the town of Me banza-Kongo is the second urban area of the province of Zaire to benefit from the services of this operator. Movicel’s digital network covers now sixteen of the eighteen provinces of Angola. The company plans to add high speed internet service alongside its telephony offer.

- Kenyan cellco Safaricom has announced plans to increase its customer base to 5.5 million by the end of 2007, up from 3.5 million today. The mobile operator, which is 40% owned by Vodafone, had initially targeted three million subscribers by 2020, a figure it has already surpassed. It said the bulk of subscribers will come from expansion into rural areas of the country. It also plans to roll out a 3G network by 2008, although it says it will enter the advanced services arena with caution as the cost of services will be too high for most Kenyans.

- Sierra Leone’s third mobile operator Lintel, which operates under the banner Africell SL, has revealed plans to extend its coverage to the whole of the country by the end of this year. The operator launched services over its GSM-900 network in February 2005, and by September claimed 35,000 subscribers. At the end of 2005 its network had coverage of Moyamba, Bo, Kenema and Shegbwema in the western part of the country. Kono, Magbuaraka and Makeni are set to be added within the next two weeks.

- Kuwait-based Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), which acquired a 61% stake in Sudanese cellco Mobitel last week, has revealed plans to invest USD500 million into expanding its network capacity over the next twelve months. MTC said it wants to leverage Mobitel’s cross border opportunities with neighbouring countries such as Uganda. It plans to add a million subscribers to Mobitel’s current 1.5 million customer base by the end of this year.

- Mobile operator MTN Uganda has reached 1 million customers. This means one in every 27 Ugandans now has an MTN line, Eric van Veen, the chief commercial officer, said.