Friday, 28 July 2017

World Telecom Labs launches survey on universal services funds

World Telecom Labs
Monday 09 May 16

World Telecom Labs (WTL) has today launched an online survey to identify voice and/or data deployments in Africa that have been financed by Universal Service Funds (USF) - and to identify where improvements can be made in the management of USF. WTL is inviting people from across the telecoms ecosystem including vendors…

World Telecom Labs (WTL) has today launched an online survey to identify voice and/or data deployments in Africa that have been financed by Universal Service Funds (USF) - and to identify where improvements can be made in the management of USF.

WTL is inviting people from across the telecoms ecosystem including vendors, operators and ISPs, NGOs and Government Officials to complete the nine-question survey which can be found at http://www.wtl.be/usf

In September 2014 the GSMA published its Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – USF survey which examined USFs in 23 SSA countries and found that “there are significant deficiencies in fund structure, management and operation” of the USFs. The survey also said that “project and financial reporting (transparency) for most funds are extremely inadequate.”

However, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa were highlighted as countries that have already, or are trying to, re-structure their funds and adopt best practice.

Leigh Smith, MD of WTL, said “Since launching our Vivada (Village Voice and Data) system last year we have had a lot of contact with operators building networks in rural Africa, with and without money from USF.

We thought it would be interesting to get an up-to-date view on how USF is working. We hope that the survey will highlight positive examples of how USF have been spent as well as ideas for how the process can be improved. We will share the results with regulators across Africa.”

WTL has built a number of networks in rural Africa financed by USF and has seen for itself the immense benefits USF can bring, irrespective of its challenges. In particular, the deployment of WTL’s Vivada (Village Voice and Data) system in rural Tanzania is an example of a strong and productive use of USF funds.

AMOTEL, Tanzania’s first MVNO operating through Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL), the country’s national telecom company, is initially deploying WTL’s Vivada system to build low OPEX, low-CAPEX networks in three villages that are not currently covered by any kind of network.

The proof of concept project is being financed by the Universal Communications Service Access Fund (UCSAF) as part of its US$9.6 million investment to improve connectivity in Tanzania, which was announced last year.


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