LESOTHO has established a universal access fund to expandÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â broadcastingÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â and telecommunications services, writes Mzimkhulu Sithetho for journalism.co.za.
The fund is administered by the broadcasting regulator, the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA).
Two main service providers,Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Telecom Lesotho/Econet-Ezicel Lesotho andÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â Vodacom/Vodafone,Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â have won tenders to provide telecommunications services in remote areas likeÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â Tebellong in the QachaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Nek district, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Malefiloane in Mokhotlong district and the Makhaleng Valley in Maseru.
Hloahloeng in the MohaleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Hoek district was selected in the second round.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Work for the first programme has begun while subsidy awards for Hloahloeng are yet to be made.
Communications minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, said: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe are all aware of the gaps in access to communications services. The office of the minister of communications is forever inundated with requests for communications services to be provided in remote and rural areas of our country.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe are hopeful that through successful implementation of programmes under the fund, access to communications services would be fast-tracked.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œCommunities in rural areas would access communications services within reasonable distances at affordable prices and these services will be of good quality.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe government will consider allocation of funds into this fund. We would also like to solicit assistance of our development partners to join hands with us in this noble initiative.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The fund is administered by a universal access fund committee that will be chaired by the chairman of the LCA board and will consist of multiple stakeholders.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â