Image via Flickr by kiwanja
Afghanistan is not well known for its telecommunication facilities; in fact, until recently telecommunication services in the country were spotty at best. However, one company has provided cutting-edge services to the population.
Founded in 2002, by Ehsan Bayat, Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) is the first mobile services company established in Afghanistan.
Currently the company is the largest provider of telecommunication services in the country. It provides wireless voice and data services, as well as global systems for mobile (GSM) communication technology throughout 34 of Afghan's provinces including Mazar-E-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Kabul, and others.
Bayat's goal was to reconnect the world with Afghanistan through an international communication company.
Because of nearly two decades of conflict, the company faced many issues during its inception including political instability, physical insecurity, and logistical problems. The company faced many issues in an area that has experienced many conflicts and wars. However, the first step in building the company was to create the communication infrastructure.
The network was inaugurated by Hamid Karzai on April 6, 2002 via an international call to Germany. Amazingly, this network was launched just seven weeks after the company received its first piece of equipment.
Shortly after the launch of AWCC, the company opened the first Internet café in Afghanistan. The facility was located in the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel, and although it was small-only 11 workstations-it proved very popular. It was also very timely for officials and journalists, who now had the ability to share opinions and views with those located outside of Afghanistan.
The company is actually a joint venture between the Afghan Ministry of Communications and the United States company, Telephone Systems International.
Afghan Wireless currently has a 15-year contract with the Afghan Ministry of Communications. This governmental body holds a 20 percent stake in AWCC.
Ehsan Bayat, the founder of AWCC, was born in 1963, and is a New York business entrepreneur, originally from Ghanzni, Afghanistan. His family was very influential in the Afghani business sector. He received an engineering degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology
After the Taliban was effectively defeated, he returned to Afghanistan and founded AWCC, as well as the Bayat Foundation This foundation play a role in the establishment of the Ariana Television, whose viewers includes Afghanis, as well as Afghan refugees based in Pakistan.
Bayat has received numerous awards for his work in rebuilding Afghanistan, including the Businessman of the Year Award from the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce, and the Corporate Social Responsibility from the Canada-Afghanistan Business Council. He is considered one of the wealthiest individuals of Afghan heritage.
AWCC's future looks bright as it continues to build its infrastructure and service offering for the people of Afghanistan.