Indian telecom companies have intensified their efforts to get a share of the African market with four firms already in negotiations to establish their presence on the continent,
The telco giants have acknowledged the positive developmental changes in Africa, stimulating the rush by foreign firms to seize opportunities in the telecom sector.
“African countries have just started moving on the development path,” said RK Upadhyay, CMD, TCIL. The company has been executing telecom infrastructure projects in Africa for past 20 years and is present in 30 countries. “There is expected to be enormous growth in telecommunications in next five years. Whenever development that takes place in a developing economy, the need for telecom services increases,” Upadhyay said
According to Tribune Information Services, the Indian government-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) is in advanced discussions for telecom licences in four countries, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is also formulating its strategy to enter the continent.
Adding their bit are the Essar group, Tata Communications and Reliance Communications, all of which have licences for telecom services in African countries and are looking to expand their operations.
Bharti Airtel is negotiating with South Africa-based MTN for a “two way deal” that would allow it to own 49 per cent equity in South African giant MTN.
“We are evaluating a proposal to acquire a company that has licences in four to five countries,” said R.S.P. Sinha, chairman and managing director (CMD), MTNL. “Africa is a lucrative market and we would like to acquire a licence through auction if there is an opportunity.” However, in most countries, licences have been auctioned.
“Funding is not an issue for our Africa expansions,” Sinha said. “We have done all the ground work.” MTNL is presently a service provider in partnership with Tata Communications (formerly VSNL) and Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd (TCIL). “We will enter into Africa on our own,” said Sinha.
MTNL is not the only government-owned company eyeing the African market. “We are looking at an expansion in Africa,” said Kuldeep Goyal, CMD, BSNL. “Whenever we find right opportunity we will grab it.”
Essar group has acquired a telecom licence in Uganda “Africa is an important market for Essar’s telecom business and we are working towards building a strong brand in this market,” said Srinivas iyengar, CEO, Essar Telecom Kenya. “We would be looking at opportunities to establish a pan Africa footprint in future.”