“If you wake me up at 2 am and ask me what I am thinking about, the answer is power,” says Pankaj Kulshrestha, chief operating officer of Eaton Towers, one of a crop of infrastructure companies that have sprung up in the past five years to control some 15 per cent of Africa’s telecoms towers.
Such nighttime frets arise from the fact that telecoms towers – which much of Africa relies upon to enable internet access – need diesel-powered generators to keep humming. And the supply of diesel in sub-Saharan Africa is prey to theft, political upheavals and economic volatility.
As a result, the business model of “towercos” such as Kulshrestha’s, as well as the operation of some 170,000 telecoms towers and the provision of wireless internet for communications, banking and commerce in large swathes of the continent all hinge on the vicissitudes of the market in the fuel. Read more
That's the easy part
Africa’s mobile revolution has become synonymous with its improving economic performance, but the sector is hitting some serious road bumps along the way.
After five years posting the highest growth rates in the world, the uptake of new mobile subscriptions across the sub-Saharan region is set to slow, by the reckoning of a report from GSMA, an association of mobile operators. Read more
MTN is one of Africa’s most ubiquitous brands, its sunny blue and yellow logo peppering every street corner from capital cities to rural villages. Its biggest rival in home territory is Vodacom, currently in top spot with 47 per cent of the South African market. But their combined dominance is starting to grate local rivals and regulators. Read more
Mobile money services in Africa isn’t just all about M-Pesa in Kenya. Orange Mobile has just rolled out its first international mobile money transfer service between Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast – the first such service in the region.
But there are some big players offering similar, rival services. Can Orange make a difference? Read more
Bharti Airtel, the world’s fourth largest mobile services provider by subscribers, announced on Tuesday that it is set to buy Warid Telecom Uganda, the Ugandan business of Abu Dhabi-based Warid Telecom.
The Indian service provider is already Uganda’s second largest mobile phone operator with 4.6m customers. And by adding Warid’s 2.8m customers, it will be raise its market share to over 39 per cent. Read more
For technology companies, Africa looks a lot like the final frontier. Mobile operators, search providers and phone manufacturers have all been racing to secure their share of the continent’s famously fast growing market as new undersea data cables and soaring mobile phone subscriptions reshape the continent’s connectivity.
Microsoft might have been operating on the continent for two decades, but it is no different. The world’s largest software maker is launching a comprehensive new strategy to expand internet access in Africa, positioning it to grow its business on the continent. Read more
China’s search giant Baidu announced on Monday that it has partnered with France Telecom-Orange to launch a co-branded browser for low-cost smartphone users across Africa and the Middle East.
The service compresses data to provide customers with a faster, more data-efficient service, while reducing the traffic on Orange networks at the same time. Launching in English and Arabic, it offers one-click access to web-based apps and internet services like Facebook and Twitter. Sounds good, but so what? Read more