Can Zambia reach 100% network coverage by 2024?

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Kenya-based NCBA Group seeks new markets for mobile banking services

It appears African operators no longer have the fintech market all to themselves. In fact NCBA Group, a Kenya-headquartered financial services conglomerate, recently announced that is planning to work with partners to bring its mobile phone banking service M-Shwari to Ghana, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This also seems to be part of a strategy for NCBA to grow as a regional bank. It already operates in Tanzania, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire and Rwanda and is apparently in talks involving potential partnerships with banks and operators in those countries for mobile phone banking services.

NCBA did well in the mobile phone-based lending market in Kenya after partnering with Safaricom in 2012. It now wants to replicate this model outside East Africa.

Ethiopia and DRC seem to be particularly attractive as they have huge populations and a banking sector mainly focused on serving big companies, making them appealing to ambitious lenders in regional states targeting smaller businesses.

In addition the NCBA model is to work with local banking and mobile partners to deliver its products in new markets, and, while new regional partners have not yet been revealed, its Kenyan partner Safaricom has recently entered the Ethiopian market. However, local press reports point out that Ethiopia’s banking sector is still one of the most tightly state-controlled in Africa and is not open to foreign ownership.

NCBA has established partnerships elsewhere with a number of operators, including M-Pawa in Tanzania with Vodacom, Mokash in Uganda with MTN and Momokash in Cote d’Ivoire, also with MTN.

Local press reports suggest that NCBA plans spin out its fintech business, which includes M-Shwari, into a standalone company with the aim of creating more personalised and feature-rich digital banking services.

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Industry Spotlight: Joe Scattareggia on Windstream Wholesale’s Infrastructure Buildouts and Beyond

Industry Spotlight: Joe Scattareggia on Windstream Wholesale’s Infrastructure Buildouts and Beyond

In February we had Windstream Wholesale’s Buddy Bayer here to talk about the company’s plans for 2022.  Now we follow up to see how things went with Joe Scattareggia, who has been instrumental in driving forward the company’s new infrastructure construction activity on multiple fronts.  On the menu are multiple intercity, high-fiber-count network buildouts and many new customer relationships that you wouldn’t have associated with the Windstream of old. … [visit site to read more]

After South Africa and Nigeria, MTN now launches 5G in Zambia

Pan-African operator MTN has followed 5G launches in South Africa and Nigeria with the news that MTN Zambia has become the first mobile operator in the country to offer 5G services commercially.

Not too surprisingly, there was a formal ceremony to celebrate the occasion, with the country’s president and a number of ministers in attendance as well as senior MTN figures.

Discussing markets, MTN CEO Ralph Mupita said, possibly with a nod to private network rollouts, that « in Zambia, we see great opportunities across many sectors, and in the mining industry in particular”.

MTN’s 5G services, which follow 5G trials over the past 11 months, have been activated to cover about 65% of the population in the cities of Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola as well as parts of Chingola, Solwezi and Kalumbila – about 15% of the whole country’s population. The aim, it seems, is to reach 100% 5G coverage in Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola by the middle of 2023, while gradually expanding the 5G network to other locations.

The introduction of 5G is described by MTN Zambia as part of a wider network strategy that includes the optimisation and modernisation of existing 3G and 4G networks, the building of a fibre ring in Zambia with MTN GlobalConnect, and the extension of coverage in more rural areas.

This is quite a coup for what is, according to market research firm Omdia, the second-biggest mobile operator in Zambia, with around 7.1 million mobile subscribers against Airtel Zambia’s total of nearly 7.9 million subscribers. Number three player Zamtel has about 4.2 million subscribers.

MTN Zambia may not be the country’s sole 5G player for long, however. In October Airtel Zambia purchased 60MHz of additional spectrum spread across the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands for around US$29 million. It plans to use the spectrum for expanding its mobile and fixed services; that will include 5G rollout.

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Ericsson launches 5G growth report for emerging markets

A report from Analysys Mason commissioned by Ericsson highlighted the potential economic, consumer and environmental benefits from 5G connectivity in 15 emerging markets, stating these countries could see GDP growth between 0.3% and 0.46% through 2035.

The countries addressed in the report are Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.

Ericsson head of government and policy advocacy Andrew Lloyd said: “With the backing of governments, regulators and policymakers, each of these 15 countries, and their citizens, stand to benefit significantly from 5G connectivity. In addition to economic benefits, 5G can also reduce climate impact, increase social inclusion, wellbeing and tackle the digital divide in areas where fixed infrastructure availability is poor.”

Analysys Mason partner Janette Stewart added: “The study highlights the benefits from having the right spectrum available for 5G deployment, both for geographic coverage, for which the low-bands are very suitable, and in the 3.5GHz band where most of the high-capacity 5G deployments in other markets are already taking place.”

Expanding on mid-band 5G coverage is a “key success factor” for emerging markets as the airwaves have the potential to deliver 80% of the earmarked economic growth. Upgrading industry and rural areas with smart technology can account for 85-90% of the total economic benefits in each emerging market.

Agriculture is a significant sector for all 15 markets as it accounts for up to 10% of GDP in some markets. The report estimates that enhanced rural 5G coverage could deliver up to a 1.8% uplift in long-term GDP from agriculture. 5G will also promote sustainable farming methods, increase efficiency and reduce agricultural waste.

Other study findings include:

  • The baseline 5G deployment cost is estimated between US$3-8 billion per country. An additional 20-35% investment is required to extend coverage
  • Extending coverage beyond the baseline can generate significant GDP benefits from industrial adoption, especially from mid-band coverage extension
  • Most countries are expected to generate overall economic benefits (GDP) three-to-seven times higher than the incremental cost of extending coverage
  • Results suggest 5G mobile broadband can generate consumer surplus between US$1-10 billion per country, with coverage extension giving 20-30% extra consumer surplus
  • The social benefits enabled by 5G will be greatest from 5G-based FWA, smart factories, freight and logistics, agriculture and healthcare use cases
  • Adopting 5G can help reduce emissions by supporting digital transformation in agriculture, freight and logistics, smart factories and construction

Governments, regulators and policymakers can support this potential growth by treating 5G as a national infrastructure and having a national strategy and roadmap, the report read.

Ericsson and Analysys Mason advised implementing 5G spectrum policies that facilitate rapid and widespread deployment such as trading off spectrum fees for deployment targets, collaborating with service providers to enhance coverage in less connected areas, and incentivising 5G use in industry and manufacturing.

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Nokia and Balitower partner to boost 5G services in Indonesia

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news, articles, event and product updates posted on Developing Telecoms.
Subscribe to our FREE weekly email newsletters for the latest telecom info in developing and emerging markets globally.

Sending occasional e-mail from 3rd parties about industry white papers, online and live events relevant to subscribers helps us fund this website and free weekly newsletter. We never sell your personal data. Click here to view our privacy policy.

Nokia and Balitower partner to boost 5G services in India

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news, articles, event and product updates posted on Developing Telecoms.
Subscribe to our FREE weekly email newsletters for the latest telecom info in developing and emerging markets globally.

Sending occasional e-mail from 3rd parties about industry white papers, online and live events relevant to subscribers helps us fund this website and free weekly newsletter. We never sell your personal data. Click here to view our privacy policy.

Cellulant and Copia aim to support Kenyan remittance market

Pan-African payments technology company Cellulant is in the news again, this time thanks to a partnership with B2C e-commerce platform Copia focused on the Kenyan market.

Copia Global describes itself as the only B2C e-commerce platform providing e-commerce solutions for 800 million middle-to-low-income African consumers.

Remittance inflows to Kenya have increased tenfold in the last 15 years, reaching an all-time high of US$3.72 million dollars in 2021, according to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). For many Kenyans, digital payments made by diasporans to rural families provide a financial lifeline to millions of households. Diasporans and people living in urban areas can use Copia’s online platform to pay for goods and have them delivered to friends and family back home.

Copia combines mobile technology, over 40,000 digitally enabled local agents, and an innovative last-mile logistics system to provide a broad product offering and efficient, reliable delivery to rural consumers. The streamlined process enables customers to simply provide the phone number of a friend or family member at checkout and Copia will do the rest, including locating the recipient, identifying the nearest delivery centre agent, and delivering the goods.

This partnership enables Copia’s diaspora and urban customers to conveniently initiate transactions and purchases for their loved ones in rural areas in Kenya using the Cellulant network. This, the partners say, provides greater choice, affordability, and convenience for both urban and rural shoppers when shopping for everyday items.

This agreement may not only be applicable to Kenya, it seems. Tim Steel, Chief Executive Officer, Copia Global, says: “This will enable us to provide diaspora and urban customers with alternative and convenient payment options when they shop on Copia’s platform for friends and family across Kenya and Uganda.”

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