India-based Bharti Airtel, the new owner of Zain’s African assets has begun the re-branding process across the 16 operations in the region.
The African subsidiary of Indian operator group Bharti Airtel has extended its mobile money transfer service across the 17 African markets it operates in. Airtel Africa’s subscribers will be able to send and receive money transfers over the operator’s network, which will be connected to a community of mobile network operators, and money transfer organisations, through the HomeSend hub.
Sunil Mittal, chairman and MD of Bharti Airtel said that India and Africa need a $50 tablet in order to spur adoption of mobile technologies. Speaking at a conference session at MWC, Mittal called on the industry to focus on bringing the cost of smartphones and tablets down to those of feature phones.
Indian operator Bharti Airtel has selected Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks to deploy HSPA networks in the 13 regions where Airtel has licenses. Seven telecom regions have been awarded to Ericsson and three each to Huawei and Nokia Siemens. The financial value of the contracts have not been disclosed.
Information technology giant IBM made its presence known in the African telecoms market on Friday, having scored a deal with Bharti Airtel to manage the carrier’s technology and services across 16 countries and around 72 million users.
Egyptian carrier Orascom, run by billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris, said this week that it has called off discussions with regional powerhouse MTN.
Distribution is one of the most important and yet overlooked factors determining success or failure in the African mobile market.
It is inevitable that the African market will go through a period of consolidation. Governments have distributed new mobile licenses liberally and profited as a result. So too have the consumers in most markets. Competition has led to a greater choice of provider and lower pricing, although not necessarily high quality.
Mobile operators in Africa are fortunate. Unlike in some of the world’s more developed markets, trust and familiarity are associated with many operators. The very fact that in many cases the mobile handset has empowered individuals means that mobile consumers often have a great affinity with the mobile operator brand.
Globally the prospects for WiMAX may have dimmed somewhat in the past couple of years, partly as a result of the strong growth of HSPA, which is often seen as a rival to WiMAX, and partly as a result of a lost appetite for network spending. But Africa still offers WiMAX technology a home.
There is substantial opportunity for growth in mobile data services in Africa. Demand for data services is great and the arrival of new undersea cables should remove some of the bottleneck created by Africa’s lack of international connectivity. The fact is that this demand will be met mainly by wireless rather than wireline connections.
There is some visibility of network sharing in South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, but in general, the model in Africa remains limited. Generally an operator-led initiative, most of Africa’s mobile operators remain tight-lipped when it comes to network sharing, unwilling to give away any competitive advantage.
Emerging markets giant Zain has announced the $10.7bn sale of its African operations to Indian carrier Bharti Airtel, in a landmark deal that could transform Africa’s competitive landscape. In this video Informa principal analyst Nick Jotischky discusses Bharti’s first moves in the region.
Bharti will be looking to reinvent Zain Africa by introducing the low-cost business model that it has pioneered successfully in India. Bharti will also be hoping to achieve economies of scale across its Asian and African operations, which together will make it the fifth-largest mobile operator in the world. But operating in Africa does present particular challenges, some of which will be new to Bharti, despite its credentials as an emerging-market operator.
As long as its partner relationships are sound, the operator should be able to focus on what a growing number of providers see as being core to operational success (customer, financial, regulatory and brand management). It is these factors that will drive strategy and ensure that pricing levels are competitive, the distribution model is robust and efficient, and that an operator’s products and service portfolio meets the needs and demands of its customers.