TowerCo of Africa Uganda has received US$40 million in long-term financing from European development finance partners to improve mobile phone network coverage in rural areas of Uganda.

The finance partners include the European Investment Bank, the Development Bank of Austria (OeEB) and Belgian Investment Company for Developing countries.

The 10 year financing will support installation of 506 new telecom towers, strategically positioned in rural areas that currently lack mobile network access or where existing mobile networks are saturated. The new towers will be mainly powered by renewable energy and enable rural communities to access 4G and 5G data services, mobile money solutions, and foster financial inclusion.

At present only 65% of Uganda has mobile network coverage. The new investment reinforces the imperative to address coverage challenges and will play a significant role in advancing the country’s 95% coverage goal.

The European backed network investment by TowerCo of Africa Uganda will overcome a key barrier holding back telecom access in rural Africa. The 506 new towers will be shared by multiple mobile network operators. A significant portion of the new towers will be powered by solar energy, reducing the risk of fuel and generator theft.

Geoffrey Donnels Oketayot, CEO of TowerCo of Africa Uganda, said “This new financing backing from European development finance partners is a testament to our shared vision of connecting communities and fostering economic growth here in the heart of Africa. The deployment of hundreds of new telecom towers across Uganda will make a significant leap towards ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital age.”

Thomas Östros, European Investment Bank Vice President said, “The European Investment Bank is committed to tackling the digital divide in Africa and is happy to support TowerCo of Africa Uganda’s engagement to transform rural connectivity across Uganda. Bridging the digital divide is a key focus of the EU Global Gateway initiative and crucial for inclusive development, and this partnership where the Bank is involved with both project and development finance partners exemplifies our shared commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of rural populations.”

Nada Shall, Liaison Officer East-Africa for BIO added, “Belgium is delighted to contribute to expanding mobile coverage in Uganda. This project aligns with our goal of empowering communities through sustainable development, and we anticipate the transformative effects it will bring to rural areas.”

The new telecom towers will be installed over the next two years and the rural telecom expansion initiative is expected to create 2,000 skilled and unskilled jobs for local communities during construction. The European Investment Bank, supported by the ACP Trust Fund, has agreed to provide US$ 16 million and the Development Bank of Austria and Belgium US$ 12 million each for the new investment by TowerCo of Africa Uganda.

TowerCo of Africa is a fully owned subsidiary of pan-African telecommunications service provider Axian Telecom and it has operations in Madagascar, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.