Non-voice a growing part of African mobile revenue
TELECOMS| Sept. 18, 2012, 8:22 a.m.
A new report by BuddeComm says mobile broadband and data services are making a significant contribution to the revenues of African cellcos.
The report, by BuddeComm's Senior Analyst Africa, Peter Lange, looks at the African mobile broadband, data and mobile media market. The report finds that a growing proportion of mobile operator revenue is coming from non-voice services, with Kenyan operator Safaricom, for example, making almost 30% of its revenue with non-voice services in 2011/12. More than half of this was generated by its tremendously successful M-Pesa mobile banking service, with the other half roughly evenly split between SMS and mobile broadband, says the report.
In the continent’s most advanced markets, m-commerce, mobile content, applications and media have reached a level of development that is beginning to foster an associated advertising and marketing industry.
The report adds that wherever 3G mobile broadband services are deployed in sub-Saharan Africa, they quickly take over as the preferred means of access to the internet, provided that a suitable backbone network is in place.
DSL services offered by national telcos on their typically underdeveloped fixed-line networks are quickly reduced to niche market status, as are most traditional ISPs reselling these services or offering their own wireless access.
BuddeComm says the extensive national network infrastructure of the mobile operators and their large user bases for voice services place them in a dominant market position for data services as well. The additional revenue is welcome in an environment of shrinking average revenue per user (ARPU) in the mobile voice market.
In many countries in the region, national fibre backbone networks are being rolled out, and new international submarine fibre optic cables along the continent’s East and West coast are providing the bandwidth needed to connect millions to the internet, at much lower cost than previously when satellites were the only option. In many cases the mobile operators are building their own fibre backbones under converged licensing regimes.
North Africa has traditionally been in a slightly better position in terms of fixed networks, but even here, mobile broadband is quickly outgrowing other access methods. Mobile broadband prices are often comparable to fixed broadband offerings or at least not far behind. In Morocco, Africa’s most penetrated DSL market with some of the lowest prices on the continent, 3G mobile broadband jumped from virtually zero to over 40% of all connections within two years after launch and made up more than 80% by mid-2012.
Using dual carrier DC-HSPA+ technology, up to 42Mb/s are currently being offered by 3G mobile operators in Africa. The continent’s first commercial LTE 4G networks have been launched in Angola, Namibia, Mauritius and Tanzania, with South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt expected to follow soon. Problems with frequency spectrum allocation have delayed commercial LTE services in some countries.
The arrival of low-cost smartphones, locally manufactured in Ethiopia for example, has lowered the barrier of entry to the internet market for African consumers. South Africa’s leading operator, Vodacom, has seen the number of smartphones on its network grow at almost twice the rate of 3G USB modems, reaching a combined total of more than six million or 20% of the subscriber base in early 2012. Average smartphone data usage almost doubled in the past year to reach 92MB per month.
The highest number of active mobile broadband subscriptions as a percentage of the population is found in Ghana, at 23% in early 2012.
MORE TELECOMS NEWS
Kenya launches phase 2 of national fibre projectDr Fred Matiangi, cabinet secretary at Kenya’s Ministry of ICT, has launched phase two of the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) project, which looks to ease communication across counties and improve government service delivery. Read More
MACRA welcomes new DGThe Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has a new Director General, Mr. Andrew Kumbatira. Read More
Safaricom welcomes security scrutiny of SIM overlay technologySafaricom has welcomed the Communications Authority (CA) of Kenya’s decision to give tentative approval to the roll out of the SIM overlay technology. Read More
NCA urged to fight the rise of SIM Boxing in GhanaGhana’s National Communication Authority is being urged to consider reducing or taking away indefinitely the 19 cent being charged on international calls into the country. Read More
Vodacom: no plans to sell SA telecoms towersVodacom currently has no intention of selling its tower infrastructure in South Africa in spite of the continent-wide trend towards leasing rather than owning towers, saying the market drivers in the country are different to elsewhere in Africa. Read More
Vodacom Congo outgoing, new boss meet DRC Prime MinisterOutgoing Vodacom Congo Managing Director, South African-born Godfrey Motsa, last week went to the Office of DRC Prime Minister Matata Ponyo to say good bye and thanks as his term at the helm of the mobile operator ended this month. Read More
Tigo Ghana upgrades Customer Support CentresAs part of efforts to offer its customers highly interactive and a more satisfying experience, telecom service provider, Tigo, says it is upgrading its customer support centres to ‘Customer Experience Centres’. Read More
Vodacom Congo to extend coverage to Central DRCMobile operator Vodacom is preparing to extend its network coverage to the central regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Read More
Glo grows subscriber figures to 27.3 millionGlobacom says it has worked assiduously to grow its subscriber base to some 27.3 million. By this latest figure, the telco has overtaken Airtel. Read More
FEATURED STORYMFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmers
Ugandan smallholder farmers are benefitting from an ambitious innovative ICT mobile phone initiative that offers weather reports and up-to-date market information about changes in prices for agricultural commodities, thus granting them lucrative returns from their farming ventures.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHiProcure delivers inputs to farmers’ doorsteps using ICTs
An innovation dubbed iProcure is already being used by several agro input firms which are now relying on it to distribute their products to farmers.
COMPANY NEWSSchneider Electric signs exclusive off-grid solar distribution agreement with Zimbabwean firm
Schneider Electric has announced the signing of an exclusive agreement with Samansco, a Zimbabwean renewable energy, back-up power and appropriate technology company.SAP Innovation Helps The Global Fund Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in Africa
Extending a longstanding partnership, SAP is a founding member of The Global Fund’s new Innovation Coalition to support disease prevention and treatment.