By John Agou Wuoi
February 14, 2009 (JUBA) — A Lebanon-based Fattouch Investment Group has officially launched a new GSM mobile network in southern Sudan called Vivacell.
Speaking at a function to officially launch the network in Southern Sudan on Saturday in Juba, the Chairman of Vivacell mobile network, Pierre Fattouch said the new network will usher in a new era of telecommunications in Southern Sudan.
“Vivacell will augur a new era in Southern Sudan through the provision of the best services at the best rates and through the implementation of the state of the art network”, he said.
Fattouch said the new network can be accessed in Juba, Torit, Bor and yei, adding that the company is already working on an expansion program that will ensure the network covers the whole of Southern Sudan. “Vivacell coverage will expand to cover all the populated areas of Southern Sudan and should expand to cover all Sudanese territory like all other operators in Sudan to ensure fair competition”, he added. Vivacell current network capacity can host up to 1 million subscribers.
He said the mobile network will create more than 5 thousand job opportunities as well as providing extensive training programs for Southern Sudanese in order to strengthen human resources development in the region. “Vivacell will contribute effectively to the development of the local human resources through training and transfer of knowledge and expertise. We will build a Sudanese company based on Sudanese manpower and expertise providing to Sudanese customers the services they are looking for”, he emphasized.
The Acting Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services in the Government of Southern Sudan, Gabriel Changson who officially launched Vivacell network said the launch of Vivacell network is demonstrates government’s commitment to promote foreign investments in Southern Sudan.
He said the government is committed to support the growth of telecommunications sector in Southern Sudan. “The Government of Southern Sudan is committed to create conducive investment environment for foreign companies to invest in Southern Sudan and we are taking this opportunity to call on investors to partner with us (GOSS) to promote development and infrastructural growth in Southern Sudan”.
Changson, who is also the GOSS Minister of Information and Broadcasting, added that the Ministry of Telecommunications is regulating the allocation of network frequencies in order to avoid rampant network interruptions that are associated with many mobile networks in Sudan. He also called on the mobile networks in Southern Sudan to improve their services to meet the expectations of their networks users.
He said Southern Sudan will soon obtain its own international dialing code in order to route international calls inside and outside Sudan. Currently, Southern Sudan-based Gemtel mobile network is using Uganda’s international dialing code (+256) to route most calls. Vivacell is using Sudan’s international dialing code (+249) to route its calls.
Vivacell is one of four GSM mobile network operators licensed to operate in Southern Sudan but is the first to be headquartered inside Southern Sudan. Vivacell is the first investment to be put up in Southern Sudan by the Fattouch Investment Group. During the first half of 2009, Vivacell aims to extend its coverage footprint to all of the 10 States.
Last April, Zain launched a GSM network in Southern Sudan, having deployed 50 base stations in the main urban areas. The company plans to spend US$150 million over the next few years on its network, which is predominantly covering the northern Sudan.