For market leader MTN, South Africa and Nigeria are the main markets of growth; they brought on board a total of 6.2 million subscribers, with Nigeria accounting for 4.2 million new subscribers in 2010.
MTN announced a 22 percent increase in the subscriber base in 2010. The total number of subscribers for the MTN Group rose from 116 million in 2009 up to 141.6 million in 2010. MTN has achieved an average of 50 percent subscription penetration on the African continent.
MTN Group plans to invest $1 billion in improving its mobile phone network in Nigeria’s growing market. This will include building a fi ber optic network, improving transmission capacity, building more base stations and improving the capacity of its network.
On the international roaming front, MTN South Africa has introduced free incoming calls and SMS for both postpaid and prepaid customers travelling in the South and East Africa (SEA) region. This applies to MTN operators in Botswana, Rwanda, Uganda, Swaziland and Zambia.
The MTN brand has been rated as South Africa’s most valuable brand, according to a league table of both African and South African brands compiled by Brandirectory. It is valued at US$4.7 billion, almost double that of its nearest rivals on the continent, Vodacom, Orascom Telecom (Egypt), FNB and Standard Bank.
MTN recently reported that their data revenue grew 47% over the last twelve months while Vodacom grew its data revenue by 33.8% on the back of a 54.6% increase in data usage. Cell C is aggressively rolling out a country-wide 21Mbps HSPA+ network, and will start to upgrade this network to 42Mbps. Vodacom and MTN are also extending their 21Mbps HSPA+ coverage, and both companies are looking at 42Mbps broadband
Bharti Airtel, the world’s fifth largest telecommunications company, has also entered the Nigeria market. Its purchase of Kuwait-based Zain brought it into 15 African nations. In the time since, Bharti cut call prices by 50 percent or more in 11 countries to attract more customers. It aims to target the low-end, rural customer segment in the region.
Bharti wants to double the company’s Africa business in 30 months to 100 million subscribers. At the end of September 2010, Bharti Airtel said it had about 40 million subscribers in Africa. In July 2010, Bharti announced plans to spend $600 million in Nigeria to improve its service.
Telkom South Africa has a range of off erings including mobile service 8.ta; Multi-Links, which provides a range of telecommunications services in Nigeria; iWayAfrica, the Internet services off ering outside of South Africa formed by merging the operations of MWEB Africa and Africa Online; and a selection of other local operations.
In 1993, Telkom branched into cellular communication and successfully bid for one of South Africa’s fi rst two mobile network licenses. Vodacom launched in March 2004, with Telkom as a 50% owner. In 1997, 30% of the company was sold to Thintana, a consortium made up of SBC from the US and Telekom Malaysia Berhad.
The company listed in 2003. In 2008, Telkom sold a 15% stake in Vodacom to Vodafone. Telkom is years ahead of the competition, despite the development of fi xed infrastructure networks by the likes of MTN, Vodacom and Neotel, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The Egyptian telecom sector generated $6.4 billion in revenue last year and has grown by nearly 25 percent in the past two years. Egypt will remain one of the fastest growing markets in Africa and the Middle East going forward. During the recent political instability that led to the overthrow of President Mubarak’s regime, telecom use increased and was heavily utilised to mobiles the masses, according to Pyramid Senior Analyst Hussam Barhoush.
According to Pyramid’s report, mobile penetration has increased from 23 percent in 2006 to nearly 80 percent by the end of 2010 year and the consultancy sees it expanding to over 100 percent by the end of 2015.
Etisalat Nigeria has sealed agreements for a $650 million syndicated loan with eight local banks to expands its mobile phone network across Africa’s most populous nation. “The additional funds will be used to roll out both our 3G and 2G network on a national basis,”
according to Etisalat Nigeria chief executive offi cer Steven Evans. The banks involved are First Bank, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Bank PHB, Guaranty Trust Bank and Oceanic Bank. Etisalat’s main rivals in Nigeria — Africa’s fastest growing telecoms market — are South Africa’s MTN, India’s Bharti Airtel, and local fi rm Globacom.
Nigeria is the most competitive fixed-line market in Africa, featuring a second national operator (SNO, Globacom) and over 80 other companies licensed to provide fi xedtelephony services. The alternative carriers combined now provide over 95% of all fi xed connections. The majority of fi xed lines has been implemented using wireless technologies, which gives the network operators the opportunity to also enter the lucrative mobile market under a unifi ed licensing regime and has helped them to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in investments from local and foreign investors.
On the handset front, Nokia was the leading handset manufacturer in Kenya though its market share had reduced from 64% in September 2010 to 57% in February 2011. In the same period, Samsung increased market share from 12.5% to 13%. Android-based devices made an entrance in the top 10 devices to displace Sony Ericsson at fourth position with 4% share. Sony Ericsson dropped to fi fth position though market share.
Huawei made an entrance into the top 10 to settle at 7th position with 3% market share. Apple, Motorola, ZTE, LG and RIM round up the rest of the list.
Sources: ITU, MM