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Rwandatel to launch mobile phone banking January 12, 2009

Posted by aikservices in Libya, Mobile, Rawanda, Rwandatel, Telecom, Wireless.
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Libyan-owned Rwandatel will launch a mobile phone banking and cash transfer system as part of a $45 million investment strategy in the central African country this year, the company has said.

The technology will be introduced in October to let users send and receive money internationally via SMS text message, chief executive officer Patrick Kariningufu said, adding it would be especially useful for rural customers.

Subscribers will be able to make deposits and withdraw cash from small shops and kiosks across the hilly country.

“You can be able to send your money to your mother sitting far away in the forest or wherever,” he told Reuters in an interview over the weekend.

“When you run out (of credit), based on your credit facility, you (also) have the possibility to have a loan up to a certain level.”

Rwandatel has snared 140,000 subscribers, a 15 percent market share, from its South African rival MTN since its launch a month ago, Kariningufu said.

Following good uptake of the firm’s 3G network, it is aiming to enrol one million customers this year — about 50 percent of the local market — by selling subsidised handsets and offering cheaper tariffs than its well-established competitor.

Kariningufu said the company had invested $3 million in a new call centre and recruited heavily to address initial woes experienced by some customers who said they had difficulties calling across networks and had complained about poor service delivery. He forecast that his company would break even financially at the end of 2010, a year earlier than had been expected.

Last week, Rwanda’s government awarded Millicom International Cellular, a Luxembourg-based group, a $60 million telecoms licence, the third such licence in the country.

Kariningufu said the market would change once that company was up and running, sometime between July and September.

“We need to grab the maximum number of customers and have them on the network and happy in the first six months of 2009, which is a huge challenge,” he said.

Under the stewardship of President Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s economy has been rebuilt after the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 people were killed.

Kagame is praised by supporters with restoring order, achieving robust growth and running a disciplined government. Critics say his authoritarian style impedes democracy.

Wireless Industry News

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