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Ethiopia - Affordable connectivity for rural villages
By Kirubel Tadesse
Nokia Siemens, a joint venture of Siemens Communications and Nokia Networks Business Group, says that it is responding to people’s real needs and budgets by developing solutions and new business models to enable them get connected.
“Around half the world’s population lives in villages,” explains Nokia Siemens, “the challenge now is for network operators to be flexible enough to try and adopt innovative solutions such as Nokia Siemens Networks’ ‘Village Connection’ that transfers responsibility for local network and business functions to a local level, building cost-effective connectivity, village by village.” Nokia Siemens explains that the thinking behind this solution is that now operators across Africa can capture the rural market potential by offering voice and sms services to villages with relatively low investment which, in turn, helps them meet the rural end-user at the point at which she or he can afford to get connected.
At a press conference Michael Maltusch, Ethiopia Country Director of Nokia Siemens Networks, gave on Thursday, December 6, 2007 at Sheraton Addis, said that in order to achieve its goal of connecting 5 billion people by wire and wireless from one end of the planet to the other by 2015, Nokia Siemens Networks believes at least three areas must be addressed, “Innovative solutions; novel business models for rural areas and the synthesis of a new value network where rural roll-outs are turned into a lucrative, realistic business opportunity that will enable the mobile communications industry to provide rural customers with connectivity”.
Explaining Nokia Siemens Networks’ Village Connection, the Country Director said “Village Connection uses a different business model. The Village Subscriber - for whom affordability is key, so he or she can choose between various call plans ranging from local-calls-only to Nokia Siemens Networks Village Connection Domain connectivity and roaming – with post and prepaid options; The Entrepreneur – where local people will now have the opportunity to host their own mobile access point, providing a lucrative business opportunity where the village entrepreneur or franchising business is an entirely new player in the value network; The GSM Operator - which aggregates traffic from various village entrepreneurs and is responsible for channeling the traffic between different villages and for the provisioning of external connectivity to Village Connection subscribers; The authorities – statutory bodies that may include the licensor and/or the regulator responsible for licensing and spectrum allocation; The Solution Vendor – responsible for supplying the network infrastructure and subscriber terminals either to the GSM operator or directly to the village entrepreneur.”
“The importance of the Village Connection model is that it brings business to villages and enables different models of business franchising that create employment for someone in a village. It also recognizes the importance of sustainable growth when connecting rural communities – which become possible when social responsibility and environmental values, are also in place”, added Maltusch.
Combining the legacy of Nokia Networks and Siemens Com, Nokia Siemens Networks has been active in Ethiopia since 2004 and is a major networks solutions provider for Ethiopia Telecom Corporation (ETC). The company has delivered and installed GSM and GPRS Mobile Network to ETC for approximately one million subscribers and delivered and installed a 1,800 kilometers of Fiber Optics Network in challenging geographical environments.
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