African Telecoms Much more to do to reach the masses

High-speed internet for corporate clients is the big opportunity this year, but to extend mobile penetration to first-timers, prices will have to fall.

 

Amerger momentum has grown in the global telecom sector, Africa has not been left out. In 2013, France’s Vivendi finalised a deal to sell its 53% share of Maroc Telecom to the United Arab Emirates group Etisalat for $5.7 billion. It remains to be seen how Etisalat will position the newly acquired operations, many of them in Francophone West Africa, alongside its operations in Nigeria. 
 
Other deals could be on the cards soon. French group Orange confirmed that it is re-evaluating its operations in Africa.
 
Africa still has a long way to go with mobile penetration. A 2013 report from the GSMA found the continent had 253 million unique subscribers. That means the mobile penetration rate is just 31%. Peter Lyons of the GSMA says prices will have to drop in order to attract new customers. “Now it’s $13.6 average revenue per user [per month]. The next 200 million to 300 million customers are going to be significantly below that,” he says.
 
Helped by the arrival of high-speed broadband, big firms will target corporate clients. In August 2013, South Africa’s MTN Group rolled out its MTN Cloud Services to target smaller companies in Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Uganda and Côte d’Ivoire. Vodacom Group also has its sights on corporate clients.


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