Mobile service provider Celtel Nigeria has launched its ‘Rural Acquisition Initiative’ (RAI), a novel way of discharging itself from the cost and responsibility of maintaining its own rural infrastructure under the guise of ‘boosting local entrepreneurship’. Under the RAI programme, the mobile operator will franchise base stations in rural and poor parts of Nigeria (where around 70% of the population resides). About 500 rural transmitters are expected to be franchised by the end of the year, utilising local entrepreneurs as ‘trade partners’ or ‘associate distributors’, who will be the company’s exclusive representatives within their localities. Associate distributors will be offered relevant Celtel products and services and will be responsible for ‘level one’ base station maintenance and the security of Celtel’s local equipment. They will operate on a revenue-sharing basis and will be supervised by larger distributors or trade partners.