The U.S. Government, via the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), has granted funding to Africell Sierra Leone Limited (Africell) for a crucial feasibility study.

The objective of this study is to extend internet access to more than 95,000 individuals across Sierra Leone.

According to a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, this initiative marks a strategic effort by the U.S. Government to support Africell in expanding its fiber backbone network nationally and concurrently enhancing fixed broadband networks in as many as 32 cities and towns within Sierra Leone.

USTDA’s Director, Enoh T. Ebong, expressed the agency’s commitment to fostering internet access across Africa in collaboration with both private and public sectors. Ebong stated, “Our Agency has a long history of partnering with African countries that are navigating the rapidly changing technology landscape and envisioning possibilities for their digital future.” He emphasized that this project is a tangible manifestation of USTDA’s role as a co-lead in the Biden-Harris Administration’s Digital Transformation with Africa initiative. Additionally, it will provide U.S. companies with opportunities to participate in Sierra Leone’s digital infrastructure market.

The U.S.-funded study will assess the economic and technical feasibility of expanding Africell’s existing telecommunications network within Sierra Leone. It will include a comprehensive analysis of consumer demand for fixed broadband service, accounting for factors such as topography, demography, and income, as well as an evaluation of existing infrastructure. Furthermore, the study will encompass a legal and regulatory analysis and the formulation of a detailed project implementation plan. Overall, this study is poised to pave the way for substantial investment in internet infrastructure, a crucial step in expanding access and reducing the cost of internet connectivity.

Ziad Dalloul, CEO and President of Africell Group, the sole U.S.-owned mobile network operator in Africa, emphasized the importance of this grant in expediting the deployment of reliable digital connectivity to numerous households in Sierra Leone. Dalloul highlighted that Africell’s expansion efforts focus on delivering both social impact and commercial returns. The USTDA-funded feasibility study will provide essential insights into the technical and economic prerequisites to achieve this goal.

This USTDA study aligns with the U.S. government’s broader objectives, including the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, which aims to catalyze transformative projects to address infrastructure deficits in developing nations. Additionally, it dovetails with the Digital Transformation with Africa initiative, reinforcing the commitment to enhance digital access across the continent.