President Paul Kagame yesterday received the MTN Group President and Chief Executive Officer, Phuthuma Nhleko. Shortly after the meeting that was held at Urugwiro Village, the head of the South African mobile telecoms company with operations across the entire continent told reporters that the context of his courtesy call was based on appreciating the government’s support of their operations.
“MTN is very committed to Rwanda,” he said, “and we are actually celebrating our tenth year now. We have very significant investments in Rwanda, close to 250 million dollars in infrastructure and we have about 1.3 million subscribers.”
“It (the courtesy call) was just to thank the President for his support because we don’t believe that MTN could have achieved any of that without a partnership-kind of arrangement with the Government,” Nhleko said.
“We have the capacity that should hand us about three million subscribers in terms of capacity by the end of this year.”
Accompanying the visitors was the Minister in the President’s Office in charge of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Romain Murenzi, who extolled the Group’s accomplishments in the country.
“It is a very good achievement and, in addition, they are going to introduce a new product, the Blackberry which has many useful applications,” he noted, saying that the discussions with the President also dwelt on many issues including MTN investments in the country, all in a bid to improve communications.
Blackberry is a wireless hand-held device commonly known as smartphone BlackBerry supporting push e-mail, text messaging, internet faxing, web browsing and other wireless information services.
It is primarily known for its ability to send and receive e-mail everywhere it can access a wireless network of certain cellular phone carriers.
In a January 13 news conference, MTN Rwanda’s Chief Executive Officer made public plans “to hit the two million mark” in terms of active subscribers this year.
They also announced an imminent “Number Plan Change” to align with the East African telecommunications coding standard and increase investments from $US 60m in 2008 to $US100m this year.
The Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Rugege, stressed that the transformation would be effective on the first day of February and explained that it was a requirement set by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), a body that regulates public utilities.
“As numbers increase, we have to increase the capacity of our towers,” he said then, adding that with a geographic coverage of “just over” 80 percent, “we need to grow with the currently growing economy,” Rugege said, dismissing talk about the Rwandan market being already saturated.
RURA also states that the number plan change is a UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) requirement meant to cater for the growing number of mobile subscribers in the sector.