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Joining South Africa’s MTN and Kuwait’s Zain in South Sudan’s telecom market is the newly-launched Digitel Network, the first domestically-owned telecom operation in the country. Its inauguration ceremony was led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit with the aim to bring mobile connectivity to remote areas across the country.

Highlighting that the country lagged badly behind the rest of the world when it came to digitalization, Mayardit is considering tax exemptions for the new company to help support rural communities. “To demonstrate seriousness in the desire to connect rural communities to mobile networks, the government will explore options, including tax exemption that will benefit importation of network equipment and other telecommunications tools,” he said. “This equipment will help increase digital literacy programs for the next generation ICT-driven economy. The tax exemption I am proposing will be done in collaboration with the national revenue authority to ensure modalities for tax exemption are consistent with its mandate.”

The launch of the new telco is due to the government’s partnership with the private sector. “The installation of mobile service infrastructure is an ongoing process. Recently, people in Maper, Rumbek North County, and Pochalla in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area have been connected to a mobile network,” Mayardit remarked.

According to the president, in three weeks’ time, Boma in the Greater Pibor Administrative area and Kuron Peace Village in Kapoeta East County will also be connected to the mobile network.

On his part, the executive vice president for Digitel, Athiei De Chan Awuol, said they aspire to deliver digital services across South Sudan. “For us to launch our telecom services and products at 10 years of our independence anniversary shows that South Sudanese can contribute towards a bright future for ourselves, for our children, and for the next generation.”

Based on a Digital 2021 report for South Sudan, the internet penetration in the country stood at 8.0% in January 2021. With 2.61 million mobile connections in the same period, the number of mobile connections in South Sudan increased by 17% year-on-year. Moreover, the number of mobile connections in South Sudan was equivalent to 23.1% of the total population which is approximately 11.29 million.

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