Afghan mobile phone firm gets 55-million-dollar loan for expansion

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Wednesday it was providing a 55-million-dollar loan to Afghanistan's leading mobile phone provider to expand its coverage to parts of the country with little or no telecommunications infrastructure in place, the dpa reported. The Manila-based ADB said the loan to Telecom Development Company Afghanistan Ltd (Roshan) would also support the roll-out of a mobile banking system that allows subscribers to transfer money through their mobile phones without having to open bank accounts. "This innovative product will especially help the unbanked and will also give the population greater access to microfinance," the bank said in a statement. The Afghanistan telecom market has grown at an unprecedented pace since Roshan began operations in 2003. The company, whose network covers more than half the population, reached the 2-million active subscriber mark in June. The total cast of expansion will be 175 million dollars. The balance of the funding will come from other investors. "This expansion will introduce mobile phone services to remote and war-torn areas, which lag far behind in the nation's reconstruction efforts and for which telecom services are vital," said Michael Barrow, a director of ADB's private sector development. "It will give people in remote areas better access to markets, access to information and will support families and communities that are often fragmented," he added. "It will also be a great boost for the private sector by helping businesses access new parts of the country."

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