BusinessCompaniesThis month... Telecoms

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Posted on Wednesday, 20 April 2011 09:47

This month... Telecoms

By Gemma Ware


Each month we focus the spotlight on a sector or banking region, accompanied by an interactive list of Africa’s top players drawn from our two annual rankings, the Top 500 Companies and Top 200 Banks in Africa. We're also highlighting related articles from our free archive in the panel above.

This month we are focusing on telecoms. Mobile use in Africa is booming as prices just keep coming down. Click below for a list of telecoms companies from our list of Africa's Top 500 Companies, or search directly on our interactive ranking.


The number of mobile subscribers in Africa passed the half-billion mark in late 2010. For mobile operators, the challenge is to find the most cost-effective way to offer mobile broadband services while expanding networks into rural areas. Finding the capital to invest in fibre-optic backhaul and base stations will be a stretch, particularly ahead of an expected assault on prices led by Bharti Airtel. After the Indian operator bought Zain’s Africa assets in June last year, it led a price war on calls and texts in Kenya before simultaneously rebranding across 16 African markets in November. ?


As competition heats up, operators are focusing on service. Bob Collymore, new chief executive of Kenya’s Safaricom, said the firm would focus on customer care and network quality. The Kenyan market leader, 40% of which is owned by UK’s Vodafone, had 13.5m subscribers in September. It is aggressively rolling out 3G coverage in urban areas and gearing up to offer 4G technologies such as LTE.?


Operators in other markets are choosing to invest in what they know rather than roll out high-maintenance networks, with tower-sharing ventures continuing apace. In November, the third-biggest South African operator, Cell C, agreed to sell 1,400 base stations to the American Tower Corporation (ATC) for $430m. In Ghana, MTN announced plans for a joint venture with ATC called TowerCo Ghana, following rival Vodafone’s move to outsource to UK-based Eaton Towers.


?In South Africa, the mobile broadband market is booming: 60% of all handsets currently being sold by MTN are smartphones. “You’re all going to have to get into the device business,” Karel Pienaar, MTN’s South Africa managing director, told the AfricaCom conference in November. As cheaper Chinese-made devices come onto the market using open-source platforms such as Google’s Android, operators will need to push data volumes up and costs down. Innovative mobile internet pricing will be key to dealing with changing markets.


?MTN’s group revenue stood at $13.4bn in 2009, representing growth of 9.2% on the previous year. With 21 operations across Africa and the Middle East, it had 129.2m subscribers at the end of June 2010. Nigeria is its biggest market with more than 35m subscribers, but MTN is recording the fastest growth in smaller markets: Benin, Rwanda, Afghanistan and Iran. ?It is also part of the consortium laying the 14,000km West Africa Cable System (WACS) fibreoptic cable, which made its South African landing at Yzerfontein near Cape Town on 20 April.


South African fixed-line incumbent Telkom sold its share in Vodacom in 2008 and launched 8ta in October with a viral advertising campaign – before announcing a drop in profits of 5.4% for the six months to 30 September. It was later forced to battle union criticism over allegations of high-level corruption. After announcing that its Nigerian mobile operation Multi-Links had lost R262m ($78m) in the same period, in April Telkom sold the mobile part of its Multi-Links business to Nigerian group Visafone for $52m.


Innovative partnerships continued to evolve during 2010. First came the launch of M-KESHO, a partnership offering subscribers of Safaricom’s M-PESA money transfer service a bank account with Kenya’s Equity Bank. Orange Kenya will launch its own partnership with Equity Bank early this year by offering Orange Money users their own co-branded Equity Bank/Orange debit card. In Uganda, MTN began the roll-out of a partnership with Western Union to facilitate transfers into MTN MobileMoney accounts. ?


In North Africa, the Algerian government’s coveting of Djezzy (Orascom Télécom Algérie) remains unresolved despite Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’s success in offloading 51% of Orascom to Russian telecoms giant Vimpelcom. The deal, which closed on 15 April, created the world's six-largest telecoms company. Vimplecom must now try to talk round the Algerian government, which has threatened to nationalise Djezzy, the jewel to Orascom's crown. Next door in post-revolution Tunisia, the state is now a shareholder in three of the country's telecoms operators. Already a 65% shareholder in Tunisie Telecom, the confiscation of assets belonging to family members of former President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali has also left the state with a 25% share in Tunisiana - majority owned by Qatari Group Qtel - and a 51% controlling stake in Orange Tunisie which had belonged to Ben Ali's son-in-law. 


Africa's top telecoms companies


Rank 2010
The Afrique report
TOP 500 companies the africa report
Rank 2009
TOP 500 companies
The Afrique report
Company name



Country



Sector


TOP 500 companies egypt
Turnover (Thds $)

TOP 500 companies tunisia
Turnover change


Net profits



5 5 MTN GROUPSOUTH AFRICA TELECOMS 15 092 695 39,34% 2
9 10 VODACOM GROUPSOUTH AFRICA TELECOMS 7 891 689 35,35% 566
12 18 VODACOM SOUTH AFRICASOUTH AFRICA TELECOMS 6 799 107 35,53% 0
17 27 TELKOMSOUTH AFRICA TELECOMS 5 164 010 34,16% 508
18 15 ORASCOM TELECOMEGYPT TELECOMS 5 064 790 -3,42% 379
24 35 MTN NIGERIANIGERIA TELECOMS 4 493 011 34,76% 0
25 33 MTN SOUTH AFRICASOUTH AFRICA TELECOMS 4 469 148 30,33% 0
33 29 MAROC TELECOMMOROCCO TELECOMS 3 807 241 3,52% 1
63 67 ORASCOM TELECOM ALGERIE (OTA)ALGERIA TELECOMS 1 867 837 -0,93% 0
65 68 TELECOM EGYPTEGYPT TELECOMS 1 804 409 -0,08% 553
94 77 ZAIN NIGERIANIGERIA TELECOMS 1 306 500 -20,51% -125
99 103 SOC. NAT. DE TELECOM. DU SENEGALSENEGAL TELECOMS 1 204 020 7,50% 395
118 139 SAFARICOMKENYA TELECOMS 1 060 427 26,44% 191
125 131 ZAIN SUDANSUDAN TELECOMS 994 300 14,26% 351
131 70 MOBINILEGYPT TELECOMS 944 133 -47,12% 0
145 143 ALGERIE TELECOMALGERIA TELECOMS 774 816 -5,60% 34
147 179 MTN GHANAGHANA TELECOMS 764 025 19,59% 0
155 155 TUNISIANATUNISIA TELECOMS 719 601 -1,02% 0
172 177 MEDI TELECOMMOROCCO TELECOMS 657 317 1,47% 0
198 212 SONATEL MOBILESSENEGAL TELECOMS 570 514 10,86% 0
202 174 SUDANESE TELECOM CO.SUDAN TELECOMS 550 340 -15,79% 38
243 292 MTN COTE D'IVOIRECOTE D'IVOIRE TELECOMS 441 198 ND 34
252 265 MTN CAMEROUNCAMEROON TELECOMS 427 144 11,61% 0
283 301 ORANGE MALIMALI TELECOMS 360 387 12,75% 157
291 225 WATANIYA TELECOM ALGERIEALGERIA TELECOMS 344 248 -27,93% 1
292 378 WANA CORP.MOROCCO TELECOMS 341 458 42,02% 0
295 261 RAYA HOLDING FOR TELECOMM.EGYPT ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT 338 721 -12,80% 7
308 267 ZAIN RDCDR CONGO TELECOMS 321 600 -15,63% -7
309 305 VODACOM TANZANIATANZANIA TELECOMS 320 467 1,96% 0
324 286 ZAIN ZAMBIAZAMBIA TELECOMS 300 100 -15,18% 53
328 347 COTE D'IVOIRE TELECOMCOTE D'IVOIRE TELECOMS 298 776 10,37% 0
338 341 ORANGE CAMEROUNCAMEROON TELECOMS 289 824 5,19% 0
343 335 MCEL MOCAMBIQUE*MOZAMBIQUE TELECOMS 281 385 ND 0
344 434 VOX TELECOMSOUTH AFRICA TELECOMS 280 767 43,90% 8
349 297 ZAIN TANZANIATANZANIA TELECOMS 272 300 -16,93% 6
368 344 ZAIN GABONGABON TELECOMS 256 400 -5,98% 19
372 308 VODACOM CONGODR CONGO TELECOMS 251 035 -18,85% 0
391 414 TOGO TELECOMTOGO TELECOMS 235 034 9,49% 62
401 430 MAURITIUS TELECOMMAURITIUS TELECOMS 227 639 13,03% 46
407 373 STARCOMMSNIGERIA TELECOMS 225 034 -7,99% -51
426 461 OFFICE NATIONAL DES TELECOM.BURKINA FASO TELECOMS 208 336 19,62% 21
428 396 ZAIN CONGOCONGO TELECOMS 208 100 -8,77% 12
481 469 MTN SOUDAN*SUDAN TELECOMS 172 104 ND 0

2009 RESULTS IN THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS - *IN ITALICS 2008 RESULTS - ND: NO DATA



Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 April 2011 10:54

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