News / Africa

South Sudan’s Lack of Infrastructure a Challenge for Cell Phone Industry

Salva Kiir (L) VP and President of South-Sudan in Nairobi (File)
Salva Kiir (L) VP and President of South-Sudan in Nairobi (File)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Michael Lissa, an engineer with the independent cell phone network Mobitel spoke with Clottey

Peter Clottey

Telephone communications in southern Sudan are often difficult because of a lack of infrastructure, says Michael Lissa, an engineer with the independent cell phone network Mobitel.

“We have really a very big problem,” says Lissa.  “We don’t have very good roads down here, so that makes it very difficult for us to expand the telecommunication networks.”

Customers sometimes complain of delays in placing calls, a problem he attributes to Mobitel’s use of satellites for transmitting calls, rather than land lines or fiber optic networks that require roads for installation.

Complicated logistics and dated technologies also lead to delays.  For example, Lissa says international calls to southern Sudan are routed from Khartoum to various switching stations before being sent on to their final destinations.

But things are improving, says Lissa, especially when compared to early efforts at developing a telecommunications system for the south.

“At that time we were limited to the towns not under the control of the SPLM (Sudan’s People Liberation Movement).  So, [during the civil war] we [focused] only in the central regions…that is, in the Upper Nile region and Equatoria,” Lissa said.

In 2006, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded the U.S.-based Louis Berger Group a five-year contract to improve infrastructure. The $700 million contract will help expand transportation, social services, and economic infrastructure in Southern Sudan and three areas straddling the line between the north and south -- the oil-producing area of Abyei and the states of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.

Despite the difficulties, says Lissa, there are signs of growth in the telecommunications network.

“We have [expanded greatly], and this was done with the construction of some roads.  Wherever there are good roads, we go and put in the telephone network.”

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) says it has spent $84.2 million in the region since fiscal year 2004. The funds were used for a number of purposes, including clearing land, building new roads and the planning, mapping and electrification of towns.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid