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South Sudan leaders call for improved mobile network coverage ahead of election

South Sudan leaders from the 10 states and three administrative areas have called on the National Communication Authority (NCA) to liaise with mobile telecom companies to boost network coverage across the country.

Andruga Mabe Saverio, the Minister of Information in Central Equatoria State on Monday said that the population in many counties in the state are experiencing poor mobile network.

 “We have key counties such as Terekeka, Lainya, Morobo that still have problems of network such as Muni, Tombe,Tijor and Tindilo in Terekeka have no network connectivity and there is total communication black out in Lujulo and Panyume payam of Morobo County,” Saverio  said during the two-day workshop in Juba organized by NCA.

The workshop was attended by ministers of information from the 10 states and three administrative areas and mobile telecom officers from Digitel, MTN and Zain.

“In places where is there is no communication completely, where there is no network, people struggle to communicate, some climb on trees, some climb on hills but that is not the mode to be adopted,” Saverio said.

Elia John, the Minister of Information for Eastern Equatoria State said that the network of the only government owned radio Voice of Eastern Equatoria 97.50 FM is outdated and cannot reach certain places in the State.

 “Its coverage drastically reduced because it has not been updated into digital system since its installation in 2008, we are also facing the challenge of power system, sometimes our only state radio goes on and off,” John said.

He also disclosed that mobile network coverage across the 8 counties in Eastern Equatoria State remains poor.

“There is big coordination gaps at all levels, national, state and telecom companies, there is no harmonization of activities in Eastern Equatoria State,” John said.

Isaac Mursal, the Minister of Information in Western Equatoria State said that Yambio FM is unable to effectively reach out to listeners across Western Equatoria State due to lack of fuel and other important equipment that are beyond the reach of the state government.

 “We cannot operate the radio itself because we do not have funds to buy fuel, we do not have equipment, and it is even difficult to record any information, there is lack of constant capacity building to the staff of the ministry,” Mursal said.

 He also highlighted the poor coordination between the ministry of information in Western Equatoria State and the national ministry of information that has left them without necessary support to help fix the problem.

Bolis Koch, the Minister of Information in Abyei Administrative Area said that poor mobile network coverage has cut off communication especially during emergency and conflict in the area.

Abyei Administrative Area has been mired in communal violence particularly involving armed youth from Warrap State and Ngok Dinka of Abyei since January 2024.

“Sometimes mobile network disappears for the whole week and it is due to shortage of fuel, Zain mobile company has only one tower in the whole area located South of River Kiir,” Koch said.

“The communal violence between Dinka Ngok and Twic of Warrap state that started in 2020 has put two mobile tower sites out of service and the influx of refugees and returnees has increased communication traffic,” he added.

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