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South Sudan in talks with global technology firms to improve data storage

The National Communication Authority (NCA) on Tuesday revealed that it has contacted giant technology firms including Facebook, Google and Alibaba Group to help support South Sudan with better infrastructure for data storage and safety.

“We have taken a good step, and we are engaging content data network, Meta, Google, Alibaba to build the infrastructure in the country that is reliable enough for them to allow their caches to be brought here,” Napoleon Adok Gai, the Director General for National Communication Authority said.

He was speaking during two-day workshop for streamlining communication coordination between the States and NCA in Juba.

 Adok disclosed that they have requested some of these technology firms to build infrastructure for local internet connectivity which has been approved.

He disclosed that by the end 2022, there were 2 million people out of the estimated population of 13 million using mobile internet, adding that they plan to ensure that this number of subscribers increases this year.

Adok revealed that South Sudan inherited mobile network operators with licenses from neighboring Sudan.

He said that the license of MTN is set to expire in 2029, adding that Digitel is the only mobile network operator with license from South Sudan.

 “There is quite a lot that we have not done, you can see our largest state which is Jonglei is literally empty, and the whole of Western Bahr El Ghazel is completely empty, we are all  concentrated  in Wau and Aweil Centre which is considered populated,” Adok said.

Wilson Lado, the Legal Regulatory Director for Zain Company said that they have shelved plans to expand their network coverage due to high cost of operation.

  “The spectrum needs to be at low price so that we can expand the network coverage, the last adjustment was 618 but the exchange rate stands at 1249, it is almost double and this where we are getting income, paying vendors and buying fuel,” Lado said.

“We face unauthorized usage of power by locals within Central Equatoria State and Northern Bhar El Ghazel State, and we also have issues of imposed taxes in Unity State, Warrap, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Western Bhar El Ghazel States,” he added.

De Chan Awuol, the Executive Vice President for Digitel said that they are working to bridge the digital divide across the country.

“We want to be part of socio-economic development in all the States, but there are some taxes levied which are not on the books, we should avoid taxes which are not appropriate,” Awuol said.

“We also have issues of land dispute, land owners block some sites and sometimes engineers are blocked from maintaining sites, the land needs to be demarcated properly, it is our responsibility to ensure ICT sector growth,” he said.

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