MTN boss calls for consolidation among mobile phone operators

November 10, 2014 |

To avoid market and company failures in the competitive mobile phone ecosystem, the Group Chief Executive Officer of MTN Group, Sifisco Dabengwa at the just concluded GSMA Mobile 360 Series Africa held in Cape Town, South Africa, has called for consolidation among phone operators.

The GSMA   is an association of mobile operators and related companies devoted to supporting the standardising, deployment and promotion of the GSM mobile telephone system.

Calling for governments and regulators to consider merger and acquisition activity between operators in the competitive markets, as well as urging greater clarity on spectrum availability, he told international technology Journalists in a media round table during the capacity building event that affordable 3G enabled smart phones were needed for digital and financial inclusion in Sub-Sahara Africa.

“Where there has to be a significant rollout of 3G, we still face challenges from an affordability point of view.

So we really need to look at affordability of 3G or other devices that will help improve internet penetration in our markets thereby driving digital and financial including in the continent”, he explained.

Urging for greater clarity on spectrum availability in the continent, he said that allowing consolidation among operators would ensure that company failure was avoided.

“We should not allow mobile phone companies to fail. There are many operators in the ecosystem competing. It may be difficult in some markets for many operators who are going to have to invest quite significantly in competitive markets to survive.

Allowing consolidation will ensure those failures are not catastrophic but are well managed and the industry is able to grow” he explained.

Accordingly, he predicted that without consolidation, or a significant change in cost structure, company failure might occur.

Speaking on frequency clarity, he said that, “We still see quite a lot of markets where there is very little clarity about spectrum allocation policy and also policies that are focused on ensuring that spectrum utilisation is most efficient and that for us is a major concern. There is not a single city in the African continent which is experiencing LTE or 4G technology on a contiguous basis”, he added.

The Mobile 360 Africa conference had   convened key stakeholders in African mobile ecosystem to examine the practical steps which can, and need to, be taken by all parties to help bring about collaboration, including: coordinating and enabling policies promoting digital and financial inclusion, extending affordable access to mobile and internet services, empowering citizens to make the most of new opportunities, supporting the required investment at macro and micro levels, among others.

Category: Technology

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