Mobile network ecosystem

Mobile networks coverage is limited to the major towns in South Sudan, cutting out a large chunk of the population in far and hard-to-reach areas. Ongoing conflicts and limited access to parts of the country have made it extremely difficult to find accurate data on mobile coverage and accessibility. Although there has been seemingly a growth in the popularity of Internet services, population displacements, destruction of telecommunications infrastructure, inflation and economic spending have discouraged investment in the telecommunication infrastructure, thus hampering its expansion.

However, there have been positive changes in the industry. In 2015, South Sudan joined the One Area Network which drastically reduced international calling and roaming costs to Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda by about 60 percent. The country has also revisited its plan to join the marine fibre-optic cable through its neighbouring country Uganda. Should this plan be actualised, there will be a potential huge shift in mobile usage and connectivity in South Sudan.

It’s important to note that limited data and statistics of mobile ownership, subscription and Internet usage within the country mean that the current estimates might be lower than actual connectivity. For instance, many families in South Sudan share mobile phones, which might imply that there may be a higher number of usage than indicated.