Informa Telecoms & Media boost growth in Africa’s communications markets

As Africa’s telecommunications professionals are heading to Cape Town for their annual industry gathering AfricaCom on 21st and 22nd November, the continent’s market is still showing exceptional growth rates.
The 10 fastest growing mobile businesses in Africa managed to add over 35 million subscriptions over the last year, with three countries dominating the chart: Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa. Nigeria’s Globacom is the continent’s leader with just under 6 million new customers despite the presence on the market of strong players MTN, which reached 3rd position in the chart with 4.4 million new customers, and Celtel, which reaches 10th position with 2 million. In Egypt, Mobinil is winning the race against Vodafone with 4.67 million additional subscribers, putting the company in 2nd position on the continent’s chart. With 3.9 million new subscribers, Vodafone still reaches 4th position. Egypt’s market is becoming even more competitive, and next year’s results will be interesting following the entry of Etisalat, which only launched this spring. In South Africa, traditionally the continent’s market leader, Vodacom is leading the pack in 5th position with 3.5 million new subscribers. MTN SA, its nearest competitor, reaches 7th position with 2.85 million. The fourth country in the list is Kenya, with Safaricom in 6th position with just over 3 million additional subscriptions. The last two companies making the chart are operating in more mature markets: Maroc Telecom with 2.79 million connections in 8th position, and Orascom Algeria, in 9th position with just over 2 million.

Meanwhile, the top 6 telecommunication solutions providers have signed 28 lucrative contracts between them in Africa and the Middle East in the first half of 2007. Ericsson took the top spot, having won eight in the period, each in a different country. Huawei, which shared the top spot with Ericsson in 2H06, was in second place in 1H07, with five contracts, in the Central African Republic, Egypt, Morocco, Rwanda and Uganda. Alcatel-Lucent shared second place in 1H07, with five contracts in three countries: Botswana, Kenya and Nigeria. Lifetree Convergence was in fourth place, with contracts to provide billing systems for MTN in four countries: Cameroon, Rwanda, Swaziland and Uganda. Motorola and ZTE tied for fifth place, with three contracts each.

Such impressive numbers shows that demand of telecommunications services is strong, and that a healthy competition in Africa’s market is facilitating the development of communications services. Indeed, the markets most represented in the list are regulated by an independent authority whose objectives are to create the conditions for an efficient market. However, there is still a strong, unfulfilled demand in most of Africa for not only voice telephony but also broadband access. This market is yet to boom, and international cooperation on the continent is necessary to facilitate it, both to improve international connectivity and to share best practices in the deployment of new networks and services.

That is why Africa’s telecommunications community will gather at AfricaCom in Cape Town, South Africa, on 21st and 22nd November 2007. AfricaCom, part of the renowned GSM>3G World Series, will celebrate 10 years of successful events by inaugurating a new format, which will bring together the whole telecommunications value chain: from mobile (GSM and CDMA) to fixed-line operators, internet service providers, satellite operators, regulators, investors and telecommunications solutions providers. The conference will include over 70 speakers, of which 23 board-level representatives of operators and regulators from across the continent. With high level strategic keynote sessions, followed by 3 targeted streams on each day, the programme is designed to provide participants with a unique learning experience. This year’s show is expected to attract a wide audience of over 3000 participants to create great networking opportunities and maximise the exchange of best practice in the development of the continent’s communications market. In addition, the larger than ever exhibition will include 180 companies showing their latest solutions for operators to improve their businesses.

African Telecoms Market Overview:
The historical pent-up demand for basic voice services continues to drive demand for mobile telephony services across the African continent. Though the exceptional growth in demand has had a positive impact on net adds, it continues to have a dilutive impact on ARPU. Yearly ARPU across the continent, which was $14.50 at end 2006, is expected to further drop by 8% to $13.42 come end 2007. Against this backdrop the growing demand for data, primarily for internet access service, though today a niche market, is emerging as the next growth market for wireless operators to stabilize if not halt the decline in ARPU.

The burgeoning corporate sector’s increasing need for high speed broadband data access, the gradually increasing PC penetration among the middle class and the spread of internet cafés across many markets is beginning to create that much anticipated market demand for broadband access. With fixed line infrastructure relatively undeveloped across the continent, it goes without saying wireless service providers are best poised to benefit from this growing demand. Noticeable across the continent is the impact this growing wireless data demand is having on the technological landscape. The emergence of alternative broadband access technologies such as Flarion, iBurst, TD-CDMA and WiMAX, all claiming to deliver high data rates at lower cost, is opening up new opportunities for operators’ future data strategies and technology choice. The most dominant of these – WiMAX, dubbed as having the potential of becoming a disruptive technology to current data delivery technologies – continues to make headlines.

For GSM/CDMA operators yet to go down the technological evolutionary path of WCDMA/CDMA-EVDO these viable alternatives have also raised uncertainties as much as opportunities.

About AfricaCom:
Part of the renowned GSM>3G World Series, AfricaCom 2007 is the largest annual communications event dedicated to Africa, providing a meeting place for operators and regulators from across the continent to debate the future of telecommunications in their marketplace, and to network with colleagues and international telecom experts. In 2007, over 3000 participants, 70 speakers and 180 exhibitors are expected to attend the event, representing the whole communications value chain, from GSM and CDMA operators, ISPs, regulators and government bodies, telecommunications solutions vendors, investors and more.

Conference speakers include:

* Moez Daya, CEO – Africa, Zain (formerly MTC Group)
* Tim Lowry, VP for Southern and Eastern Africa, MTN Group, and Managing Director, MTN South Africa
* Marc Rennard, EVP of International for Africa, Middle East & Asia, France Telecom Group
* Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU
* Michael Joseph, CEO, Safaricom, Kenya
* Dr Nizar Dalloul, Chairman & CEO, Comium Group
* Alieu Conteh, Chairman, Vodacom Congo
* Paul Edwards, Chairman, Starcomms, Nigeria
* Engr Ernest Ndukwe, Chief Executive, Nigerian Communications Commission
* Chris Lundh, CEO, Rwanda Terracom
* Paris Mashile, Director General, ICASA, South Africa
* And representatives of international telecom solutions providers such as: Alcatel-Lucent, Amdocs, Bercut, Detecon, Ericsson, Gateway, Gemalto, HP, Huawei, Intelsat, Nokia Siemens Networks, Oberthur, Premium Ideas, Qualcomm, Redknee, Sicap, Telesoft, ZTE

The event is supported by the GSM Association, the African CDMA Forum, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Open Mobile Alliance and the Global Mobile Suppliers Association.

For more information on this event and how to take part, please contact: Julie Rey, Head of Africa – Com World Series, on tel: +44 20 7017 5394 or e-mail
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About Informa Telecoms & Media: Informa Telecoms & Media is the leading provider of business intelligence and strategic marketing solutions to the global telecoms and media markets.

Driven by constant first-hand contact with the industry our 90 analysts and researchers produce a range of intelligence services including news and analytical products, in-depth market reports and datasets focused to technology, strategy and content.

Informa Telecoms & Media also organises more than 125 annual events, attended by more than 70,000 executives. In addition to the GSM>3G World Series, our events cover subjects as diverse as fixed and mobile operator strategy, technology, TV, mobile music and games.

For more information on the event, how to attend and media support, please contact Steve Cassidy on or tel: +44 20 7017 5626
For more information on the programme, please contact Julie Rey on or tel: +44 20 7017 5394