By Prudence Minayo
The growth in the telecommunications sector in Africa has been exponential. The services offered by these telcos include mobile telephony, the revolutionary mobile money transfer, consumer electronics, ecommerce, cloud computing, data, music streaming, and fibre optic services.
Some of these telcos operate in more than one country. This writer lists the big players in the telecommunication sector in Africa.
Orange has a presence in 18 countries in Africa and the middle East and has over 120 million subscribers. The company’s mobile money transfer service ‘Orange Money’ is available in 17 countries and has amassed 50 million customers.
MTN is a multinational company of South African origin. It operates in a number of African and Asian countries. In Africa the group has a major presence in South Africa and Nigeria. In Nigeria, it holds about 35% of the market. It was previously known as M-Cell and in 2015 was named the most admired and most valuable African brand.
As of 2020, it had about 280 million subscribers (around the world) making it the biggest network provider in Africa.
Vodacom has a major presence in South Africa but extends its reach to Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Lesotho and Mozambique. It has a subscriber base of about 123.7million. It is the leading cellular network provider in South Africa with an estimated market share of more than 50%. Vodacom has a 35 per cent stake in Kenya’s leading telco Safaricom PLC.
Airtel is among the largest telecommunications companies in Africa. Owned by Bharti Airtel (an Indian company), it has presence in a number of African countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Chad, Rwanda, Seychelles, Malawi Nigeria, Niger and Uganda among others. The company has over 99 million users in Africa with its affordable data plans. Apart from calls, texts and data, Airtel also offers a mobile money transfer service through Airtel Money. In 2020, the company made an estimated revenue of $3.4 billion.
The company has a major presence in Egypt but its services extend to Morocco, Mali, Gabon, Côte d’Ivore, Togo, Mauritania, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
In Egypt, it was the third mobile operator to gain entry into the market. Within fifty days of its launch in Egypt (in 2007), it acquired one million subscribers and soon became one of the largest in the market. It majorly provides mobile, fixed line, mobile internet and fixed internet plans.
This is an Ethiopian Telecommunications company founded in 2010. Previously, it was known as Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ERC). By 2018, the company had reached 85% of the market in Ethiopia and had a subscriber base of 64.4 million. It is owned by the government and maintains a monopoly over all telecommunications services. Safaricom PLC will be the second company to enter the market.
It is currently the biggest communication provider in Kenya. As of 2020, it’s subscriber base in Kenya was estimated at 35.6 million, more than 60% of the Kenyan market. Safaricom offers mobile telephony, data, fibre optic services, mobile money and ecommerce. Safaricom money transfer service M-pesa, is one that nearly every Kenyan uses on a day to day basis. Safaricom PLC is one of the most profitable companies in East and Central Africa. In 2020, Forbes named it Africa’s best Employer.
Glocom is relatively new to the African market but it has gained quite a huge market in West Africa. It has quickly gained popularity especially in Accra, Ghana due to how the sim card appears. Reports indicated the annual revenue stands at USD1.17 billion.
This is a subsidiary of Britain’s communication giant Vodafone. It was one of the first private telecommunications companies to offer services in Egypt. In the late 1990s, it won the government’s earliest contracts when it began privatizing communication infrastructure. It is a major provider of phone and internet services in the country.
9 Mobile, Nigeria was formerly known as Etisalat. It offers 4G data plans, mobile transfers, and business services. It has about 20 million subscribers and has a lot of presence in the social lives of people.