Roshan (telco)

Roshan (telco)

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Roshan is Afghanistan's leading telecommunications provider, serving approximately 3.5 million active subscribers.

In January 2003, Roshan was awarded the second GSM license in Afghanistan at a time when there was virtually no telecommunications infrastructure in place; national calls were prohibitively expensive and Afghans had to travel abroad to make an international call. In six years of operations, Roshan’s subscriber base has grown from 30,000 to more than three million today, making Roshan the largest telecom operator in one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world.

Roshan, which means "well-defined" or "clear" in Persian, is Afghanistan’s leading telecommunications provider. Today, Roshan’s GSM network reaches 230 cities and towns across all of Afghanistan's provinces. Roshan covers over 58% of the population, including the most remote rural areas.

Roshan is the largest investor, private company and taxpayer in Afghanistan, having invested over US $430 million in bringing the latest and most innovative telecommunications technology to Afghanistan. Roshan is trying to expand its network in area where there is no coverage of mobile. Roshan is Afghanistan’s largest taxpayer and has contributed $146 million in taxes to the Afghan government through to the end of 2008. This has accounted for approximately 6% of the Afghan Government’s overall domestic revenue.

Roshan employs over 1,100 people, of whom 20% are women. Indirectly, the company has added over 30,000 jobs to the Afghan economy through its top-up stations, retail stores and public call offices.


Roshan is owned by an international consortium made up of the following shareholders:
  • 51.00 % - Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development
    Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development
    The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development ' is the sole for-profit agency of the Aga Khan Development Network and works in partnership with international organizations and governments to stimulate the private sectors of developing economies, with the aim of generating capital for investment...


  • 36.75 % - Monaco Telecom International (MTI), is a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless
    Cable & Wireless
    Cable & Wireless Worldwide PLC is a global telecommunications company headquartered in Bracknell, United Kingdom. Cable & Wireless specialises in providing communication networks and services to large corporates, governments, carrier customers and resellers...

     (49%), Government of Monaco
    Monaco , officially the Principality of Monaco , is a sovereign city state on the French Riviera. It is bordered on three sides by its neighbour, France, and its centre is about from Italy. Its area is with a population of 35,986 as of 2011 and is the most densely populated country in the...

     (45%), Compagnie Monégasque de Banque
    Compagnie Monégasque de Banque
    Compagnie Monegasque de Banque is a private bank of the Principality of Monaco.-Background:Compagnie Monegasque de Banque was founded in 1976 by the Banca Commerciale Italiana and other international partners. Since 1996 when it took over the COMIT branches in Monaco, the bank has increasingly...


  • 12.25 % - TeliaSonera AB


Over 93% of Roshan staff is Afghan nationals, among which the average age is 23 and many employees only have a high school degree. Over 20% of Roshan employees are women, and the company is committed to promoting women in the workplace.


Roshan is the largest telecom provider in Afghanistan. Major competitors include Etisalat, MTN/Areeba, and Afghan Wireless.

Products and services

Product Description
Aali (SIM) SIM card designed and targeted to the mass market. Includes Azizan benefits (Friends & Family), per second billing and an incoming bonus on all calls.
Saadat (SIM) SIM card designed and customized for the business market. Includes digressive rates on national and international calls after the second minute, per second billing and an incoming bonus on all calls.
Yaaran (SIM) SIM card designed and customized for Afghan youth. Offers free off-peak calls after the second minute and discounted rates on SMS messages, along with per-second-billing and the inbound bonus to those in the Yaraan community.
Post-paid Unique postpaid offering provides customers with billing flexibility
Public Call Offices (PCOs) Over 7,700 PCOs are operational across the country. PCOs allow Afghans to make calls without needing to buy a handset and SIM
IVR IVR content provides customers with the opportunity to access content via an interactive voice platform. Users can download or listen to music, ring tones, greetings, jokes, poetry, health tips, recipes and other information.
ETopUp Enables a Roshan customer to refill a prepaid airtime account without using a scratch card. In addition, customers can top up any amount they choose with a minimum refill amount of 25 AFA.
SMS National, international, and roaming text message service
SMS Content Downloads Entertainment service that enables customers to download ring tones, picture messages, and logos
SMS Voting Provides an interactive service for Media and Media consumers. Users can use SMS to vote for their favorite show or participate in quizzes
GPRS General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) was launched in Kabul in 2007 and allows for wireless internet browsing on cell phones and laptops.
BlackBerry Roshan was the first provider in Afghanistan to offer BlackBerry service. The service offers virtual office connectivity while on the move.


In 2008, Roshan introduced a service, M-Paisa. M-Paisa offers a money transfer service which enables registered Roshan customers to transfer money using their mobile phone for peer-to peer transfer, repayment of microfinance loans, purchase of airtime and salary disbursement for companies. Roshan partnered with Vodafone to launch this service

In the initial soft launch, Roshan learned that it needed to simplify the overall customer experience. In a country like Afghanistan, where the illiteracy rate is approximately 70%, users find it difficult to use SMS to transfer funds. Therefore, Roshan developed an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, a voice activated menu, in three languages, English, Dari and Pashto. IVR interface will be offered to the customers by dialling a short code; they are then directed to an intuitive voice menu that will guide them through the required steps to complete transactions.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Roshan’s corporate social responsibility arm, Roshan Community aims to be a driver in the reconstruction of Afghanistan by investing in the communities which Roshan operates.

Roshan has developed and supported a wide range of programs aimed at improving the well-being of the people of Afghanistan and Roshan employees. These programs are focused on four key areas: health, education, commerce, and social welfare. Some of the programs supported by Roshan include:


- Established the Roshan Clinic, which provides Roshan employees and corporate partners, along with their families, full medical, dental and physiotherapy treatment.
- Launched the first Afghan local employee medical and life insurance plan for all Roshan employees and corporate partners.
- Established the Telemedicine project. The first phase of the project linked the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) in Kabul to Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) in Karachi, Pakistan, enabling access to medical expertise. The second phase linked Bamyan Hospital, a rural hospital to FMIC and AKUH.
- Built 21 wells that help provide fresh and clean drinking water.
- Providing ongoing subsidized health promotion and first aid training courses.
- Committing for the past three years $100,000 each year to a welfare fund to help marginalized children access health care at FMIC and $75,000 each year to sponsor six beds at the children’s ward at FMIC.


- Built the Hakim Nasir Khusro School in Kabul which provides access to education for over 6,000 primary and secondary school pupils. Also established an e-learning laboratory and playground for the school.
- Built 12 playgrounds that allow Afghan children, the future of the country, to play, interact and grow.
- Dubbed children’s educational programming in Dari and Pashto to support intellectual, social and moral development, which is aired on Tolo TV.
- Supporting an Employee-Child Scholarship program; currently 17 children are receiving scholarships with 10 new added each year.
- Project partner in the One Laptop Per Children program led by the Ministry of Education in partnership with Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, USAID’s Afghanistan Small and Medium Enterprise Development, which aims to bring low-cost computers and internet to classrooms across Afghanistan in order to improve both the teaching and learning environment.
- Supporting, 42 educational sponsorships for street working children at Aschiana in partnership with Dubai American Academy, other small organizations and individuals.
- Equipping the Afghan Canadian Centre for Women in Kandahar with needed technology to deliver training and continues provision of internet connection.
- Providing funding for Cisco Net Academies in Kabul, Mazar and Herat from which 120 graduated in 2007/2008 and 240 will graduate in 2008/2009.
- In partnership with Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), constructed the Kalan Gozar Girls School for over 650 girls in Baghlan Province.


- Launched TradeNet pilot project with Mercy Corps, a price information system to provide farmers, input suppliers, traders and wholesalers with access to pricing information through an SMS delivery system.
- Providing employment opportunities for women to sustain their livelihoods through the Women’s Public Call Offices project.
- Supporting the Pamir Energy Project, which brings electricity from Badakshan-Tajikistan to Badakshan, Afghanistan.


- Supporting Aschiana Educational activities in returnee/IDP camps and outreach centers in Kabul, Parwan and Mazar-e-Sharif by providing a hot nutritional meal to children since 2005, serving nearly 500,000 meals a year.

Awards and recognition

Roshan claims to have picked up various international awards, including:
  • Best Marketing Campaign, GSM Association Awards, February 2005
  • Best Telecom Brand of the Year, CommsMEA Awards, September 2006
  • Best Operator in Developing Market, World Communications Awards, November 2006
  • Special Recognition for Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, February 2007
  • Customer Service Provider of the Year, CommsMEA Awards, September 2007
  • Excellence in Leadership Award, Frost & Sullivan, October 2008
  • Best Corporate Social Responsibility Contribution, Telecom World Awards Middle East, November 2008
  • Most Innovative Non-Voice Service, CommsMEA Awards, December 2008
  • Best Educational Project in the Gulf, Afghanistan and Pak, March 2009

See also

  • List of Afghan companies
  • Telecom Development Company Afghanistan
    Telecom Development Company Afghanistan
    Telecom Development Company Afghanistan is a telecommunications consortium in Afghanistan. Its projects include Roshan , the brand name for their GSM services. The consortium is led by Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development and consists of Monaco Telecom International and TeliaSonera....