Tuesday, 19 June 2012

African telecoms investment - May 2012

$1.1Bn of new investments in African telecoms infrastructure were announced in May 2012. When summed with the $3.1Bn France Telecom (finally) paid for full control of Egyptian mobile operator Mobinil this makes May the most successful month of 2012 for telecoms investment in the continent.

Significant activity includes the launch of Movitel, Mozambique's third mobile operator, to increase competition in this increasingly vibrant east coast market. Movitel has deployed 1,800 BTS to date and intends to double that number by the end of next year. The former gives them capacity for about 7Mn subscribers - more than enough to cope with likely demand in a country of 20Mn people.

Elsewhere, Airtel have commited $100Mn to rolling out 3G in Rwanda over the next three years. Although on the surface this looks like a small amount of money, it should be remembered that Rwanda has a population of roughly 11.5Mn and Airtel's investment should be sufficient to upgrade 1,000 urban cell sites to HSPA+.

Two interesting smaller investments to report:
  • Madnagascan cellco Telma selected Hughes to provide satellite backhaul for its GSM network, demonstrating the continued usefulness of satellite bandwidth for rural telcos
  • Ghanaian ISP Nita has decided to upgrade its Wimax network to LTE, presumably in response to the rapidly falling cost of end user devices for the latter, while penetration of the former technology stagnates. I expect that they will be the first of many to make this switch
Overall, investment for the first five months of the year is up about 70% YoY. Next month I'll do the compare and contrast for the first 6 months of 2012.

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