CEO of Tigo Tanzania Simon Karikari detailed the main obstacles to connecting the next 1 billion people in Africa, calling for comprehensive dialogue among stakeholders on creating a suitable policy environment for digital inclusion in the region.
Karikari used a keynote to outline the significant investments required for infrastructure development and maintenance, especially in rural and remote areas of Africa, as a main challenge for operators.
“In Tanzania, one of the ways that we are overcoming that challenge is working with the government to provide subsidy to extend connectivity to rural parts of the country. We are also promoting infrastructure sharing as a cost-effective way to provide infrastructure to these areas”, he explained.
Another notable challenge to connectivity is the very high pricing of devices and cost of content, the CEO said. The operator’s efforts in this area include bringing Facebook in Swahili and selling smartphones supporting the language to enable customers “to taste what the internet and the digital world has to offer”.
Despite marking improvement in financial inclusion through mobile money offerings, Karikari emphasised a progressive regulatory approach and a conducive environment were needed to let operators participate in reshaping the financial services landscape in Africa.
“The challenges for operators in connecting the next billion are as much regulatory as are they technical. And inclusive dialogue among stakeholders on creating the right policy environment is the most important step that we can take together to help build this future financial, digital, inclusive Africa”, Karikari argued.