Saturday, December 15, 2007

GOSS also Got to Fight and Win Telecommunications War

“If you despise knowledge, try ignorance”

Better still: try knowledge if ignorance proves costly. Suffering in silence without asking those who might help is what is meant by costly ignorance. The Government of South Sudan has to win development war. This has many fronts and come in different guises. Each front poses its own unique and peculiar challenges.

I landed last week in Juba after absence of more than 18 years. I had great expectations for Southern capital city after nearly 3 years of CPA implemenation.

To my disappointment it took me two days to establish contacts with friends and relatives in the town. Why? Mobile phones (Zain previously Mobitel, and Sudani – the two national mobile telecom service providers) have been providing extremely poor service for quite a while for Juba. They have licenses to operate in Juba and South in general. And despite poor quality of services (QoS) (That is, non-availability of service 99.99 of the time) they still operate. Come to Khartoum and the service is available 99.99 of the time. What a contrast. In the era of Naivasha and the CPA, the South is still contending with far inferior service. Why should anyone settle for this kind of poor services which effectively renders Juba cut off and out of reach from outside world when even within Juba itself people cannot communicate with one another without experiencing extreme difficulty? Why? Why?

You would expect the Ministry of Telecommunications to revoke the license of Sudani and Mobiltel (Currently Zain). So far it has done nothing. Give them a few weeks to improve the quality of service or else they should pack and leave. As things stands, no one will miss their service. I hope the GOSS Minister of Telecommunications is reading this and so are Sudani and Mobitel/Zain Chief Operating Officers (COO).

Top of GOSS agenda is putting in place good infrastructure which is an absolute prerogative for economic development. Good communications infrastructure is a must. We should have Telecommunications Commission to advise GOSS. Yet we don’t. Having it is long over due. This should help in this sort of problem.

John A. Akec


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