The government of Rwanda has signed an agreement with South Korean operator KT Corp which aims to see 95 per cent of the country’s population covered by LTE mobile broadband technology in three years’ time.
The two parties are to form a joint venture company to build and operate a wholesale-only LTE broadband network in the African country, the deployment of which is expected to commence later this year.
KT will contribute “expertise” and around $140 million to the project, while the government will assign more than 3,000 km of national fibre optic network assets, spectrum and a wholesale-only operator licence. The equity contributions will be complemented by debt and vendor financing.
Rwanda’s current mobile operators have been invited to invest in the project and are expected — along with ISPs — to provide retail access to the LTE services for 12 million end users once the market has fully matured.
“This agreement with KT marks a major milestone in Rwanda’s drive to become a modern, knowledge-based economy – and by expanding our information infrastructure, we will create jobs, support social progress and propel economic growth,” said Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda’s minister of Youth and ICT, who ratified the agreement.
According to a recent ITU report, 95 per cent broadband penetration would lead to a 10 to 13 per cent boost to GDP growth for Rwanda.
“Public-Private-Partnership with the Government of Rwanda to build the 4G LTE network for wholesale is a unique and innovative way to achieve an accelerated nationwide broadband coverage and it shows other developing countries to follow,” added Yung Kim, KT’s president and group chief strategy officer.
KT and Rwanda said they will look at opportunities to extend the JV business model to neighbouring countries.