transform platform

South Africa: “We want to create a WeChat for Africa” – MTN CEO Ralph Mupita

By Quentin Velluet

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Posted on May 10, 2021 10:41

 © Ralph Mupita is the CEO of the largest pan-African telecom group MTN since August 2020
Ralph Mupita is the CEO of the largest pan-African telecom group MTN since August 2020

Inspired by the American and Chinese giants of the sector like Apple and WeChat, Africa’s leading telecom operator is making a strategic shift and transforming itself into a technological platform. Payments and communication will be integrated into the same system — known as Ayoba — which has been specially tailored for the African user, including the use of multiple African languages and more relevant emojis.

MTN has grand ambitions. It hopes to expand its reach beyond South Africa with a bid for one of Ethiopia’s new telecoms licences, lodged on 26 April. In so doing, it partnered with large Chinese government financiers: the Belt and Road Initiative known as the Silk Road Fund.

And MTN hopes to grow its offer into a payments and communication ecosystem that rivals those offered by China’s WeChat, or Apple or Facebook, and other US tech giants.

This will require raising of new funds from investors, taking on other rivals in Africa like Orange, and investing heavily in fibre optic infrastructure. The firm’s chief executive officer Ralph Mupita explains why the dividend was suspended, and how they will exit from their Middle East markets, which have brought MTN an entanglement with the US Justice Department…

You chose to separate mobile money from your other operations? Why?

Ralph Mupita:

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