Manoj Kohli the joint MD and CEO of Bharti’s international operations in an interview talked about Bharti’s strategy to turnaround Zain.
According to Kohli, the operations of Zain actually declining for last 18 months or so. Revenues, profit, EBITDA, market share was declining and his first job there, was to get the decline to be over so that the company can revive it and start a growth trend and that he thinks they have done within the first three months.
He added that since the last month, there has been very good growth. Minutes are growing, Minutes of Usage per customer are growing, revenues are growing and customer satisfaction is growing and today the company is launching as a brand in Africa. People will see a very remarkable change in this market.
When asked about the recently cut tariffs in Kenya he stated that the company’s strategy of course is taking the network deep into the market, into small town, into rural areas, also offer affordable services. Now strategy is affordability and not has price wars etc. which some people are portraying it as. The company is going through a restructure period which can take a couple of quarters. There are around 6 7 big restructurings that they are doing in Africa. The company’s network is being fully restructured.
The company has more than 40 million active customers and is adding more than a million active customers a month. But he added that when the company took over they had shed about 6 million from 42 million to 36 million.
According to the CEO of Qatar Telecom (Qtel), Nasser Marafih, the global financial crisis had some positive impact on Qtel’s businesses in the sense that the lowering of license fees worldwide to a â€˜more realistic’ level meant it was cheaper to expand into new markets. He also feels that the lower prices will create further opportunities for Qtel’s acquisitions in the future.
36.2% of mobile operator Wataniya Telecom Algeria (Nedjma) is controlled by Qtel via 71% stake held by Kuwaiti-based Wataniya Telecom (NMTC). 14 communication companies in 17 countries are currently controlled by Qtel. However, all the plans to expand the business in the African market are abandoned by the company due to tough competition.
This is good news for South African cellular providers who were amoungst the first in the world to back this new technology.
According to GSA, 58 HSDPA-enabled devices have now been launched by 18 suppliers. The majority of these devices are handsets (26 models), ahead of PC cards/embedded modules (24), USb HSDPA modems (4) and wireless routers (4).
Sixteen HSDPA devices are capable of operation at 850 MHz, in support of major 850 MHz HSDPA network deployments in Australia and North America, and potentially in many more markets throughout the Americas, Asia and elsewhere.
Forty-seven HSDPA devices (i.e. 81%, and representing an increase of 28 models in 6 months) also support GSM/EDGE, thus ensuring service continuity and the best user experience of mobile broadband services.
The survey total of 58 devices excludes a rapidly increasing number of notebooks, laptops and tablet PCs with embedded wireless wide area networking (WWAN) capability for HSDPA broadband access.
The survey notes 16 PC products from 8 PC manufacturers, which have been launched mostly in partnership with mobile network operators.
HSDPA is fast becoming a mature technology with South Africa forming one of the 37 countries to offering this service commercially.
A recent related survey by GSA stated that the number of HSDPA networks planned, in deployment or launched has reached 120 in 55 countries, of which 58 are providing commercial services in 37 countries today. GSA forecasts that the number of commercial HSDPA networks world-wide will reach 85 by end 2006.
HSDPA and the local market
The growth of HSDPA worldwide is a good indication of the increasing importance of being able to connect anywhere.
In Africa the evolution of the Internet seems to have slipped quickly to wireless mobile technologies as the infrastructure needed for fixed line connectivity represented a problem for many African nations.
Wireless mobile connectivity in Africa has become the market which has been predicted to dominate.
In South Africa the cellular providers are fast gaining in the data arena on the fixed line provider, Telkom, due to the incumbent’s inability to meet the needs of the South African market place.
The number of fixed lines in South Africa has fallen and to add to this problem Telkom are unable to deliver ADSL services fast enough to potential subscribers.
Many are choosing the easy to install mobile services of the cellular companies as a way to bypass months of waiting for a Telkom ADSL installation.
Telkom have started to improve their service delivery but the process is too slow for many who are now content to stick with the more expensive but better serviced cellular offerings.