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DRC launches communications fund to boost connectivity

DRC launches communications fund to boost connectivity

The government of the DRC has announced the launch of the fund for access and universal service to improve connectivity.

Léon Juste Ibombo, Minister of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, said the fund would enable it to provide communications infrastructure and services in both rural and landlocked areas of the DRC.

"The operators have been informed that they will be contributing 2% of their turnover to the new fund," said Ibombo.

According to the Minister, the fund is an active step being taken by the government in conjunction with the industry's stakeholders to address poor network coverage and poor quality of service in the country.

He said the government has been sanctioning operators, especially Airtel and MTN, since 2014 - yet there has been no significant improvement in the quality of service offered by operators.

In addition to the new fund announcement, he also issued an ultimatum to operators to improve the quality of their service within two months.

"The government of the republic, by my voice, wishes to emphasise that the quality of services is a non-negotiable requirement. Consumers must have a normal and adequate voice and data service, which is nothing more than the consideration for a purchased service such as the payment of their recharge cards, among other things."

Investment protection for operators

In a related development, the country's minister for new information and communication technologies, Emery Okundji, has assured the GSMA that the country is making efforts to ensure that the investments made by the telecoms operators in the country are well protected.

Speaking at a GSMA workshop in Kinshasa under the theme How to liberate and fully exploit the potential of 4G in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Minister said the government is building a telecom ecosystem in which all stakeholders will benefit.

"To safeguard the investment of telecom operators in the country, the DRC guarantees them the option of renewing their license once it expires. The draft law on telecommunications tabled by the government for adoption in parliament, fixes the duration of a license at 20 years and provides for the possibility of its renewal. Such a provision constitutes, certainly, a guarantee of security of investments."

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