Policy Briefing: Delivering Strategic Rural Coverage Across Zambia

Connect Africa Managing Director Dion Jerling with stakeholders in Lusaka

Connect Africa Managing Director Dion Jerling with stakeholders in Lusaka

Leading the way: Partnering with Government, Mobile Network Operators and Traditional Leadership

Over the past 10 years, Connect Africa has developed a unique ICT model for rural development that can facilitate government’s socio-economic objectives – quickly.

Using rapidly deployed low-power, low-cost out-door cellular base stations, Connect Africa Logistics Ltd (CALL) presents an effective and sustainable cellular coverage solution for remote rural communities that provides them with access to communication, in turn stimulating and supporting rural development.

With a focus on connecting up Zambia’s Chief’s Palaces and rural communities, CALL has conducted extensive research and development in rural market demand. CALL recently journeyed to meet Traditional Chiefs and rural communities, documenting and exploring the benefits and drawbacks where “technology meets culture” during the “Palace Expedition” here.

For the last three years CALL has been perfecting a business model that makes previously unprofitable rural coverage profitable and possible, with leading US-based communications developer Vanu Inc.  Using Vanu’s innovative Low-Power, Low-Tower technology, CALL is able to offer Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) a rapid deployment, zero capex, zero opex revenue-share solution for rural coverage.

CALL’s “innovative and disruptive” business model incorporates community hubs at each tower location, rolling-out multiple public and private sector services directly to the people. These hubs, or Community Service Centres, will facilitate delivery of key ICT-driven education, health, agriculture and other business-related messages, and will be managed and maintained in the heart of the community.

CALL’s solution enables rapid and effective use of the Universal Service Fund – providing rural GSM infrastructure at a fraction of the cost of traditional GSM infrastructure networks – and results in multiple-wins for all stakeholders:

  • Government meets its socio-economic objectives – quickly
  • The Chiefs Palaces and surrounding communities have ICT infrastructure
  • The regulator uses the USF effectively and quadruples it’s coverage capacity
  • Zambia leads in Africa for effective USF spending and rural communications
  • MNOs generate revenue and meet their rural coverage obligations
  • Rural communities receive long-awaited coverage
  • Rural communities have access to multiple social and economic services through their own Community Service Centres.

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