LapGreen Networks, a subsidiary of the Libyan African Investment Portfolio, owns 80% of Rwandatel. The company early this year, signed a US$35 million deal with Huawei Technologies of China to revamp its landline network and replace its public switched telephone network with a next-generation network (3G).
“The launch of the new GSM and 3G networks is a key milestone in Rwandatel’s quest for better quality services in Rwanda’s telecommunications development,” the company’s chief executive officer Patrick Kariningufu said.
Rwandatel will now be able to offer its subscribers superior quality convergent services in mobile, fixed and Internet telecommunications, according to Kariningufu. The new network will also enable international roaming capacity between different providers, easy activation and switching of SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards, as well as compatibility with cellphone handsets on the market, he added.
GSM has become the preferred technology for mobile telephony, while the CDMA technology that Rwandatel has replaced is favored by data service providers for its high speed.
The managing director of LapGreen Networks and chairman of the Rwandatel board of directors, Abdulbaset Elazzabi said LapGreen plans to build ‘the biggest’ telecommunications company with a single network in Africa.
LapGreen, which is the majority shareholder in Uganda Telecom (UTL), also has operations in Uganda, Togo, Niger, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Gabon. It deals in mobile, fixed line telephony and internet connections.
“LapGreen plans to build a big telecoms company in Africa and this company will be built by African skills,” Elazzabi said during the launch in Kigali.
Rwandatel, a former government parastatal currently boasts of about 55,000 subscribers, just half of its main challenger MTN which has slightly over one million subscribers for its landline, mobile telephones and internet services.