Apply Now: £900,000 for Rural Connectivity Projects in Ghana and Uganda

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Mobile internet connectivity brings a wide range of social and economic benefits by helping to promote digital inclusion and supporting the delivery of essential services and key development objectives such as poverty eradication, healthcare, education, financial services and gender equality.
However, there is a large digital divide in Ghana and Uganda due to the challenge of bringing mobile internet coverage to rural areas in a commercially sustainable manner. According to GSMA’s research, achieving commercially sustainable connectivity requires:

  • Lowering the CAPEX and OPEX of cell sites and infrastructure overall, thus increasing the Return on Investment of individual sites;
  • Decreasing the risks of investing in mobile infrastructure and the associated operational costs of running new sites (i.e. decrease cost of capital); and
  • Enhancing demand for mobile services, therefore unlocking revenue opportunities that improve profitability and attractiveness of these investments.

Balancing the supply and demand equilibrium requires improved planning methodologies, innovative and less expensive technical solutions, as well as collaborative implementation models to support adoption of digital services.
GSMA Connected Society Innovation Fund
The GSMA has launched its Connected Society Innovation Fund for Rural Connectivity to support innovative new technology solutions for connecting unserved rural communities in Ghana and Uganda.
Apply now for £900,000 in grant funding to test innovative ways to deploy mobile broadband networks in rural areas and demonstrate commercially sustainable models that can be scaled and replicated in similar environments.
Sign up now to get more project funding opportunities!
Applicants will be required to propose innovative commercially sustainable and scalable mobile internet coverage solutions in preselected rural areas. These solutions will be interconnected with the core network of one of the partner mobile network operators working with the GSMA.
Successful grantees and their partner MNO will also receive advisory support from the GSMA, which includes analytical support to identify commercially viable sites for deployment, and full technical and commercial performance reports.
Rural Internet Connectivity Innovation Solutions
GSMA aims to support commercially sustainable and scalable connectivity solutions with grant funding up £300,000 for each project that is innovative in at least one, and ideally as many as possible, of the following areas:
Radio access network

  • Utilize innovative and rural-proof base-station technologies to reduce CAPEX for radio access
  • Provide 2G service for voice and SMS. Network performance
  • Provide all the other elements such as BSC, RNC, Gateways
  • Use hardware and software architecture optimized to operate in rural conditions.


  • Decrease power consumption per site
  • Minimize Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and Operating
  • Expenditure (OPEX) using renewable energy sources 3.Energy related complementary business models
  • Operate where grid power is unavailable or unreliable for up to 24 hours

Backhaul network

  • Optimise OPEX and CAPEX backhaul costs for remote and ultra-remote locations
  • Optimise network design to reduce overall backhaul costs and improve performance
  • Provide sufficient capacity to transport the traffic from the site to the core network of the partner operator.

Rural passive infrastructure

  • Minimise total Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs and complexity
  • Minimise installation costs and delays and improve Time To Market (TTM) compared to traditional site builds

Business model

  • Innovative business models to increase the commercial viability of locations
  • Demand-enhancing features that can increase profitable Internet usage
  • Solutions that minimise the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) per person covered with mobile internet

Grant Funding Application Criteria
GSMA anticipates that solutions receiving grant funding will likely involve consortia of different providers, which may include: individual vendors, satellite operators, integrators, start-ups, academic institutions and others.
The primary applicant must agree to the grant funding term sheet and meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be able to operate in country targeted including deployment of technical personnel
  • Be in satisfactory financial health and have adequate financial systems to report regularly to the Fund and, if required, undergo an external audit
  • Be able to provide information about other partners in the consortium (if relevant) and evidence of an established collaboration or agreement by proposal stage
  • Be compliant with fundamental human rights, the UK Modern Slavery Act and Gender Equality Act, Child Protection Policies (here) and international labour standards, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, in particular section 3.3, and report of the US FCC Cybersecurity Risk Management and Best Practices Working Group – and ensure that any partners in the consortium are compliant with the same
  • Be compliant with the GSMA Supplier Partner Code and DFID’s Supply Partner Code – and ensure that any partners in the consortium can demonstrate the same.
  • Not be prohibited from working or contracting with any licensed MNO in Ghana or Uganda – and ensure that this is the case for all partners in the consortium, if relevant
  • Be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to access MNO-specific Statement of Requirement (SOR)
  • Be willing to enter into a contract with the partner MNO for the country of project implementation during the contracting phase.
  • Be able to clearly articulate why the support from the GSMA is needed and what it would enable.

If you qualify, you should apply now for up to £300,000 in grant funding for your rural connectivity innovation and sign up now to get more project funding opportunities!
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