In the late 1990s, telephone service in Tajikistan was in a poor state: it was delivered using a single, out-of-date, radio system; headsets were heavy, expensive and short on battery life, and coverage outside urban areas was almost non-existent, forcing residents in rural districts to line up for hours at scattered land-line stations in order to communicate with others.
In such cases of pressing infrastructure needs, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) looks to make bold but calculated steps to make investments towards a solution.
In 2001, AKFED partnered with MCT to launch the “Indigo Tajikistan” mobile telephone company in Tajikistan as part of an effort to improve service and spur competition in the country’s mobile services industry. In March 2010, the company announced the change of its brand to Tcell. Today, Tcell is the largest mobile operator in Tajikistan by revenue, with annual figures in excess of US$ 110 million, and by subscriber base, with over 35 percent market share in 2010. It strives to uphold exemplar standards in the country in its corporate practices and customer service.