Icasa begins awarding rural telephony licences

21 May 2004

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) yesterday announced the first three winners of a raft of licences it plans to award to provide telecommunications services to rural areas of the country.

Bokamoso Communications, which won the concession for Free State’s Lejweleputswa district, said it expected to spend up to ZAR20 million (USD3 million) on network infrastructure in the first three years of operation. Amatole Telecoms, which was awarded the licence to provide services in Eastern Cape’s Amatole district, said it would roll out a mix of technologies but would have to keep costs down because the population of the district was poor; it claims that 41% of the district’s population currently lacked basic telephony provision. Thinti Thinta Telecoms, which won the concession covering KwaZulu-Natal, said it expected capital expenditure to reach ZAR61 million over five years.

The three winners will benefit from financial support from the Universal Services Fund, with each operator receiving up to ZAR15 million over three years. The grants, which will help the licensees roll out their network infrastructure, will not have to be repaid as long as the operators meet the rollout targets set down by ICASA.

South Africa, Telkom South Africa