Africa: Country Now Africa's Largest Telecom Market
Nigeria has been officially declared Africa's largest telecom market, due largely to convergent services deployed by operators in the industry.
The influential global telecom research group, Informa Telecom & Media, in its latest online issue stated that following the industry statistics released early in the year by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which places total active subscribers' base at 41.5 million "Nigeria has now officially taken the lead as Africa's largest telecommunications market."
Less than 10 years ago, the country barely had 400,000 active telephone lines and with just one state behemoth as monopoly, the state of affairs was chaotic. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo opened up the sector and the first GSM open bid introduced Africa's most populous nation to new entrants like ECONET Wireless of Zimbabwe, (now Celtel Nigeria) and MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd in 2001.
They were joined later by a local new player, Globacom Ltd. "With 41.5 million subscribers, it is now taking a position which was until December 2007 held by South Africa. The continent's most populous country isleading the way in West & Central Africa not only in terms of market numbers, but also with services.
With a regulatory regime which introduced universallicences in the market, services providers are using new business models to improve access to the internet as well as voice communications.
As a result, GSM operators are experiencing competition from companies using alternative technologies, for the benefit of theconsumers," the report stated.
In a way, the growth could be seen as a regulatory victory for the NCC which through a combination of licences has given operators free choice of technologies to drive their own vision and business plans. That freedom is now pushing the numbers and themarket.
In the relation to the Nigerian approach, "other countries in the region," the report noted, "are beginning to look into the opportunities of convergentor triple play services. France Telecom - Orange Group, with its eight operations in the region (including three launched in 2007) is keen to draw from its experience in Europe to deliver both fixed-line and mobile services".
The report is trailing the forthcoming annual West & Central Africa Com forum slated for Abuja on 18 - 19 June 2009. The Abuja event will extensively discussdevelopments in the region's telecom market drawing participation from across the Middle East & Africa,MEA and Europe.