http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 14.20Change: -0.08
R/$ = 10.57Change: -0.05
Au 1304.65 $/ozChange: 2.13
Pt 1486.50 $/ozChange: -2.00
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
May 20, 2002

DRC prepares for big cellular investment

Back
Goma|Kinshasa|Lubumbashi|Mbuji-Mayi|SECURITY|Africa|BMI|Hosken Consolidated Investments|Security|Systems|VenFin|Vodacom|Vodacom Congo|Vodafone|Africa|Britain|Congo|Democratic Republic Of Congo|South Africa|USD|Kinshasa Hotel|Security|Costly Network|Mining|Mobile Operator|Non-mining Investment|Security|Systems|International Telecommunication Union|United Nations|Dobek Pater|Henry Stephan|Mobutu Sese Seko|Security|Vic Subramanian|Cellular Telephone|Mobile Phones
SECURITY|Africa|Security|Systems||Africa|||Security|Mining|Security|Systems||Security||
goma|kinshasa|lubumbashi|mbujimayi|security|africa-company|bmi|hosken-consolidated-investments|security-company|systems-company|venfin|vodacom|vodacom-congo|vodafone|africa|britain|congo|democratic-republic-of-congo|south-africa|usd|kinshasa-hotel|security-facility|costly-network|mining|mobile-operator|nonmining-investment|security-industry-term|systems|international-telecommunication-union|united-nations|dobek-pater|henry-stephan|mobutu-sese-seko|security-person|vic-subramanian|cellular-telephone|mobile-phones
More Insight
© Reuse this When Africa’s biggest mobile operator Vodacom offered $5 of free airtime to new clients in the Democratic Republic of Congo it sparked a mini-riot.

Security guards were called in to break up shoving matches between hundreds of people in the lobby of a flashy Kinshasa hotel, where Vodacom booths had been set up ahead of the launch earlier this month.

And when Celtel, currently Congo’s leading provider, cut its rates by 20% in anticipation of Vodacom’s launch, traffic shot up and clogged the company's networks for days.

Demand for mobiles is huge in the war-torn central African country and Vodacom Congo will become the eighth network provider. Most arrived in the past 18 months.

The former Zaire was the first African country to have mobile phones with the launch of a small, costly network in the mid-1980s, but only about 150 000 of Congo’s 55-million people currently use them.

Congo’s State-run fixed network, numbering around 20 000 landlines according to the most recent estimates, is unreliable. Users complain of regular interruptions to services and say numbers can be arbitrarily assigned to new users, making mobiles a more popular option.

Executives like Henry Stephan, Vodacom Congo’s chief operating officer, are betting on a surge of new users.

“We expect the number of mobile phone users to jump to about 600 000 in the next five years and then reach one million within a decade,” Stephan said.

Others estimate the market could reach three-million users.

Vodacom plans to spend $370-million in the first year of operations – the largest non-mining investment in Congo’s history according to a report on the country’s telecoms by BMI-TechKnowledge, an African IT and telecoms research house.

The rapid growth in Congo reflects an Africa-wide explosion in mobile use, with user numbers rocketing from two million in 1998 to more than 30-million by the end of 2001, according to the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union.

The organisation predicts 100-million Africans will own cellphones by 2005 and says the number of mobile users has already outpaced that of fixed-line phones.

Africa has had mobiles since the 1980s, but they only really took off in the mid-1990s with the arrival of pre-paid billing.

Pre-paid cards allow companies to collect money in places where steady incomes, fixed addresses, credit checks, reliable banking and postal systems do not exist.

Under the late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was ousted in 1997, mobiles were the preserve of an elite of barely 20 000 in the former Zaire who paid up to $3 per minute for local calls.

“We have tried to make phones more accessible to the masses,” says Vic Subramanian, marketing manager for Celtel, which serves two thirds of Congo’s users.

Industry analysts say that not only can better communications encourage business and drive economic growth, but they also lead to greater democratic freedom in countries like Congo that have known decades of dictatorship.

“There is a correlation between mobile communications and the spread of democracy,” said Dobek Pater, a senior analyst with BMI-TechKnowledge.

The big challenge for the Congolese is bringing the vast mineral-rich territory back together after four years of war that have seen it carved up into fiefdoms ruled by rebel factions and an unelected government.

Recent peace talks fuelled hopes that the former Belgian colony might turn the corner, but after eight weeks they broke up without an overall agreement and some analysts warned of a possible return to all-out war.

“With the war and the constant government hassles it is a high risk market and a difficult environment to work in.

“How do you explain to your head office that you have to give 100 free phones to government ministers and their assistants and friends,” said one telecoms official who asked not to be identified.

Vodacom is half owned by South Africa’s State-controlled telecoms utility Telkom. Britain’s Vodafone owns 31,5% of Vodacom, South African group VenFin holds 13,5% and the investment holding company Hosken Consolidated Investments the remaining 5%.

It began its operations in the three major markets in Congo -- the capital Kinshasa, the diamond-mining city of Mbuji-Mayi and Lubumbashi, capital of the mineral-rich south-eastern province of Katanga.

It has plans to roll out into new markets over the coming year, including rebel-held areas like Goma in the east.

“If we can get it so that people in Goma can talk to people in Kinshasa it will only help bring the country together,” said Vodacom’s Stephan.

“This country has such potential it is incredible.” – Reuters © Reuse this Comment Guidelines
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Latest News
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim
South African engineering union Numsa has agreed to end a four-week strike after accepting a wage increase offer from employers, union leader Irvin Jim said on Monday. Numsa, South Africa's largest union, has accepted a 10% annual pay rise fixed for three years for...
Trade union Solidarity on Monday accepted the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa’s (Seifsa’s) revised wage offer. The three-year wage agreement, settled within the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC), comprised...
Rob Davies
South Africa will use the upcoming US-Africa Leaders' Summit, which will also encompass the 2014 edition of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum, to appeal for a 15-year extension of the nonreciprocal trade arrangement, as well as South Africa’s...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Steel 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the steel industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the global and South African steel and stainless steel markets, South Africa’s major steel producers and events that have shaped these markets.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
Multinational semiconductor chipmaker corporation Intel announced its national campaign to further acquire partners to drive its She Will Connect programme, an initiative that aims to expand digital literacy skills to young women in developing countries, further into...
South Africa's MeerKAT radio telescope array programme should get back on schedule within a few months. This assurance has been given by SKA South Africa (SKA SA) associate director: science and technology Prof Justin Jonas. Early last month, Science and Technology...
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA’s) Metrorail service will remain a subsidised service following its current multibillion-rand rolling stock, station, depot and signalling upgrade programme. PRASA group CEO Lucky Montana has allayed fears that...
GARYN RAPSON Contaminated Land Provisions in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act No 59 of 2008 will open the door for court battles to determine who will be held liable for the remediation
The uncertainties around the remediation of affected areas as addressed in the Contaminated Land Provisions in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act No 59 of 2008 will possibly spark litigation and disputes between landowners and businesses, contractors...
South Africa is currently the largest component of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB’s) active portfolio in Southern Africa, comprising 62.5% of the bank’s $7.9-billion exposure to the 12-country region – the second largest beneficiary is Mauritius, which...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks