Orange Money has reached the threshold of 4 million customers in Africa and the Middle East and celebrates its commercial launch in Jordan and Mauritius. These two additional countries mean that the service is now available in 10 countries across the region.
Orange Money, the Group’s mobile payment service, was first launched in Côte d’Ivoire in December 2008. It has since been made available in Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger and Senegal. Over the past few weeks, the service has also been launched in Jordan and Mauritius, in line with Orange’s goal to launch the service in all 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the Group operates.
In only eighteen months, Orange Money has quadrupled its customer base, which now covers 14 percent of all Orange customers in these 10 countries. In Madagascar, over a third of all customers have opened an Orange Money account, while in Côte d’Ivoire daily transactions now exceed $1.92 billion per day. This exponential growth attests to the strong consumer appetite for this innovative, simple and practical mobile payment service in countries where the population has limited access to bank accounts but is widely equipped with mobile phones.
Access to Orange Money is very easy: mobile phone customers may open an Orange Money account for free whether or not they have a bank account. It allows customers to carry out simple banking operations and transactions in total security. The three key services include: money transfers, where users can send money using their phone to any Orange Money customer in the country; financial services, including solutions facilitating savings and insurance (according to the country); and payments, giving users an easier way to pay their bills, as well as providing a simple way to buy mobile phone credit.
These two last categories of service are growing quickly. Thanks to partnerships with local service providers, Orange Money customers can pay some of their bills with their mobile phone. This enables customers to benefit from the comfort and flexibility of a remote payment system and in many cases allows them to avoid a long and difficult journey. For example, Orange Money customers can already pay their electricity bills in Senegal or their water bills in Jordan.
In addition to payment, Orange Money also provides customers who do not have a bank account with a way to save money. In Madagascar, for example, customers can now sign-up to a life insurance scheme.
Commenting on the development of Orange Money, Marc Rennard, Orange’s Executive Director for AMEA operations, stated that Orange Money plays an important role in driving growth in activities in emerging markets, allowing them to contribute to the economic and social development of these countries, while improving their customers’ loyalty.
Africa based MTN Group will invest over USD 1 billion in 2012 in an attempt to improve its network service in Nigeria following the directives by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to improve its service quality.
According to reports, the operator has said that the increase in the number of subscribers has necessitated the need for an efficient service delivery. Further, sources claim that the investment will help ease out the traffic on the network thereby improving the network quality.
As per sources, the Nigerian Communications Commission had issued a warning to telecom operators MTN, Globacom and Bharti Airtel in 2011 for their poor services, asking them to improve their quality before taking on additional subscribers.
India’s leading telecommunications operator Bharti Airtel may be planning to expand its network in South Africa and Cameroon, as learned through industry sources. Airtel is a dominant player in the mobile industry with operations in 19 countries across Asia and Africa.
Mobile penetration has steadily been increasing in African countries, and with most of the global markets being saturated, emerging markets such as Africa provide mobile operators with new opportunities to increase their subscriber base and enhance their revenue.
Currently Airtel offers services in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. By adding South Africa and Cameroon, two of Africa’s fastest growing mobile economies to the list, Airtel aims to strengthen its position in Africa.
Airtel is the leading mobile operator in India and is well known for its innovative and competitive tariff pricing. The operator’s entry into these new markets is expected to take the mobile industry by storm and introduce an unprecedented level of competition.
Airtel presently offers services in 15 cities in India and with the population of one Indian city being similar to that of one African country, South Africa and Cameroon have the potential to be extremely lucrative for Bharti Airtel.
Further, sources claim that rival operators currently offering services in these economies such as MTN, Vodacom and Orange are already working on strategies to maintain their market share and offer stiff competition to Airtel.
Nigerian telecom operator Glo Mobile has reportedly announced that it will launch its commercial services in Ghana by January next year. According to reports, George Andah, Chief Operating Officer, Glo Mobile has said that the company will pre-empt the launch by holding a series of activities designed to ensure that Glo Mobile’s superior services get the launch they deserve.
The operator had received its licence in November 2008 and had initially planned to commercially launch its services in November 2011. However, sources claim that Glo Mobile is planning an aggressive entry strategy and expects to go live with 100 percent coverage in January 2012. Further, the operator claims that they have already invested US$ 600 million in Ghana with initial capacity for at least ten million customers initially which could be expanded later.
With the increase in saturation of mobile services in urban markets across the world, mobile operators have shifted their focus to towards the relatively untapped rural markets for better business opportunities and a chance at increasing revenues.
According to reports, industry analysts predict Nigeria the largest mobile market in the continent, to be home to over 90 million subscribers by this year end. Further, improvements in broadband connectivity along with the emergence of new generation smartphones are expected to drive mobile data growth in the economy.
In most rural economies, the lack of adequate infrastructure has been a grave cause of concern for mobile operators as it reduces their profits and drives up costs for customers. Currently, industry reports suggest that a fully functioning network grid could help operators cut their mobile tariffs by 50 percent, which is higher than those being offered in developed countries.
Changes have been observed in the investment environment as well. With operators offering discounted services to low income users in order to expand their reach, the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) has witnessed a decline. Bharti Airtel, which had acquired Africa’s Zain, slashed its prices by significant amounts in a bid to increase its market share, which increased the pressure across the industry. Further, sources reveal that Etisalat (Saudi Arabia) and Globacom have also been increasingly gaining customers, giving strong competition to market leader MTN.
The next big thing in the economy is being considered to be mobile banking services. With a large portion of the population being unbanked but gaining access to mobile devices, more and more consumers are using their phone to transfer money and pay for goods, in a more convenient and secure manner.
South African operator MTN has reportedly tied up with Visa in order to provide m-payment services to unbanked users in emerging markets. According to reports, the service, known as Visa Mobile Prepaid, will be initially marketed in Nigeria and Uganda, as part of its existing mobile wallet service.
As per sources, Aletha Ling, COO, Fundamo (Visa) said that the service provides users with a new set of transaction options such as withdraw money from ATMs, transfer money, and pay bills as though they are using a typical card. She added that customers will not be able to use the product if there is no money in their mobile wallet, similar to a debit card, which is why Visa is describing it as ‘prepaid’.
Telecommunications operator Bharti Airtel has reportedly signed an agreement with Sweden based Ericsson to upgrade its diesel powered stations in Nigeria with E-site, a new green energy solution. According to reports, Manoj Kohli, CEO and joint Managing Director, Bharti Airtel, has said that the new E-site solution would enable Airtel to harness solar energy to power mobile base stations across Nigeria.
He added that they are happy to take the lead in deploying and rolling out state-of-the-art green power solutions and reducing dependency on diesel. Further, this latest initiative will not only enable Airtel to significantly reduce operating costs but also contribute to the reduction in the greenhouse effect.
As per sources, the E-site solution developed by Flexenclosure, has been tested for two years in Kenya helping them in reducing the diesel consumption and emissions of the diesel powered sites. Further, the E-site is said to use renewable sources of energy including wind turbines.
Reports reveal that Lars Linden, President (sub-Saharan Africa) Ericsson, has said that they are driving the implementation of this innovative solution in support of sustainability and development of the networked society. The new green and highly cost efficient base station solution makes not only environmental sense but also financial sense for their customers, enabling the efficient deployment of services to previously un-served or underserved areas.
Mobile network operator, MTN Nigeria had partnered with AdaptiveMobile, a world leader in mobile security, to protect subscribers from mobile network threats. According to reports, AdaptiveMobile, successfully completed a mobile content filtering, anti-spam and anti-virus protection project with MTN Nigeria, thus allowing the operator to safeguard its network and subscribers from unwanted mobile data through their mobile devices.
As per sources, the network protection platform offered by AdaptiveMobile, has helped MTN reduce its network load and customer complaints thereby enhancing the operator’s failing IP reputation. Further, as per industry reports, the network operator has managed to improve its efficiency and network security by as much as 98 percent after partnering with AdaptiveMobile.
Reports suggest that the network protection platform enables MTN to significantly reduce spam, cut down on customer care costs, block access to illegal sites and identify the source of many viruses. Obinna Nweje, General Manager, MTN Nigeria, has reportedly said that the roll-out of AdaptiveMobile’s Network protection Platform is enabling them to improve customer experience and achieve significant operational cost savings by protecting their network and subscribers. He added that with many operators globally, the shared nature of mobile IP addresses means that attacks from unscrupulous spammers can have a huge impact on IP address reputation and potentially result in innocent subscribers’ emails being unnecessarily blocked.
Airtel Nigeria, a leading global telecommunications company, has launched new packages for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), corporates, postpaid and BlackBerry users. The new packages offer users attractive tariffs with increased data volumes providing subscribers more affordable access to data enabled services.
According to reports, Rajiv Sehgal, Vice-President and Head Enterprise and Postpaid Business, said that the package was conceived to address the needs of its customers in various segments namely: Corporate Organisations, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), individual postpaid customers and BlackBerry users.
He further added that there were three distinctive categories for corporate organizations, namely Corporate Plus; Corporate Pro and Corporate Premium, with each of them consisting of their own unique voice, SMS and data tariffs. Also, free talk minutes, SMS and data of up to 1GB is available. Further, customers under a Close User Group (CUG) of 100 staff and above can make Airtel to Airtel calls for 17k/sec (USD 0.001) and 25k/sec (USD 0.0015) to other networks.
For the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), there are two plans – SME Plus and SME Pro. Both plans include discounted tariffs in voice (including international calls) for 17k/sec (USD 0.001) and 30k/sec (USD 0.0018), SMS and data. In addition, there is free airtime, complimentary data and up 30 free SMS’s. In order to completely utilize this plan, the SME is required to have 10 to 99 lines under the Close User Group (CUG).
The retail or individual category consists of four plans; the Advance plan (annual), Intermediate plan (monthly), Basic and Family plans. These offer free calls, SMS and data as well as up to 150 free CUG minutes. Under these plans users can make discounted call at the rate of 15k/sec (USD 0.001) for Airtel to Airtel and 25k/sec (USD 0.0015) to other networks.
Sources claim that Airtel’s Chief Operating Officer, Deepak Srivastava, said that Airtel is committed to partnering and supporting initiatives that will help boost the Nigerian economy and also empower and enrich Nigerians. He stated that they also recognise that the corporate world is just as important for growth and development, therefore, the need to empower the cooperate sector with telecoms offerings that will make their life and business more enjoyable and profitable became necessary.