17 Mar 2011

Kenyan Operators Unlikely to Meet Deadline to Launch Mobile Number Portability

Operator price wars in East Africa have blighted operators’ efforts to ensure quality of service, meet customers’ expectations and retain their loyalty.  As consumers buy up multiple SIM cards to take advantage of the best deals, subscription rates have been artificially increased 19% year-on-year whilst ARPU has declined to a mere 12% to reach just US$7.13 at the end of 2010. 
All of this is set to change with the impending introduction of Mobile Number Portability in East Africa.  It’s well accepted that consumers elsewhere are loyal to their mobile number, not their operator, so for the first time East African consumers will benefit.  It is likely the consumer will now look to network quality and value added service offerings when choosing their service provider, triggering fresh competition between the operators on quality, and away from the dirty price wars.  As the artificial buffer of multiple SIM cards is knocked back, Safaricom - as the dominant incumbent so far - is expected to be the biggest loser, and competition will heat up further.

But there has been disappointing news in local press reports this week, that mobile operators in Kenya may not be ready for the adoption of the Mobile Number Portability which is scheduled to take effect from 1 April 2011. The four operators are yet to start test-runs on the switch platform dubbed, the ‘All Call Query System’ and insist that they need at least four weeks to perform the tests. The industry regulator, CCK has reiterated that the deadline for the switch-over will not be extended.  For the sake of the consumer, we hope this doesn’t end in deadlock.

East African operator leaders will be meeting in Nairobi, 5-6 April to discuss implementation of new networks and services across the region at East Africa Com conference.  Find out more online www.comworldseries.com/eafrica   

14 Mar 2011

West Africa region sees Africa's major operators compete for growth opportunities

As for most of African telecommunications market, the West Africa region seems to be entering a new phase of its growth. Until recently it was characterised by low ARPU, low penetration, and countries with a high number of operators for a relatively small population. However, since the arrival of new international connections (new submarine cables and satellite links) and some dynamic initiatives from ECOWAS's main regulators, the region has now become a ground for Africa's major operator groups to compete.
Among the region's international strategic investors are France’s Orange, South Africa’s MTN, India’s Airtel, Etisalat (owners of Atlantique Telecom)and Expresso Telecom of the UAE, who all have significant footprints in the region. All these commpanies have expressed their interest in growing their presence in the region and increase their positions within their existing markets, where data and other value-added services such as mobile money offer considerable growth opportunities.
Thses groups will all be present at West & Central Africa Com, the region's annual event which will take place in Dakar, Senegal on 15th and 16th June. They will be represented by senior executives with a wealth of experience in those promising markets: Bernard Ghillebaert (Head of West Africa & Asia, Orange Group), Tiemoko Coulibaly (CEO, Francophone Africa Region, Airtel Africa), Ahmad Farroukh (Acting VP for the WECA region, MTN Group), Juan Jose De La Torre Chamy (Group Strategy & Planning Director,Etisalat Group), and Saiful Alam (CCO, Expresso Telecoms Group)
and more.
They will join 700+ telecommunications professionals from the region and beyond to discuss how to seize the changing opportunities in this region's dynamic market. With mobile subscriptions forecasted by Informa Telecoms & Media to increase by 68% over the next 5 years, and mobile broadband launches enabling the growth of mobile data services, this region is definitely the place to be for international investors.