Weekly digest for 24 Sep 2021


This week’s main story is a new report from Vodafone on Accelerating 4G access in Sub-Saharan Africa. The main focus of the report is how to increase access to smartphones. Low mobile broadband coverage and low smartphone penetration are the primary reasons why many MNOs in Africa still see increasing voice and SMS traffic. It’s also one of the main reasons why the transition to a data-centric business model is taking longer in Africa compared to the rest of the world. Vodafone estimates that 2G phones are sold in China between US$5-8 and resold in Africa at US$15-25. Obviously, the differential is far higher for 4G phones. It’s that premium between the manufactured cost in Asia vs. the retail price in Africa that Vodafone wants to target. The main recommendations are to lower taxes (like the Tanzanian initiative to remove 20% VAT from smartphones and tablets); to assemble the final components of smartphones on the continent rather than importing the entire phone and to increase access to cheap financing (like the Safaricom initiative called Mdogo Mdogo or Pay Little by Little). Vodafone argues that higher broadband penetration would increase GDP per capita by 2.5% and have a significant effect on lowering poverty. To achieve these targets, the UN and the ITU have launched an initiative with The Alliance for Affordable Internet; GSMA; the government of Ghana; Safaricom; Smart Africa; Vodacom Group; and the World Wide Web Foundation.

  • Kenya: Netflix is providing free access to about a quarter of its library to all Kenya’s as long as they have an Android smartphone.
  • Namibia: Namibia: shares of state-owned telecom operator MTC are officially on sale at $ 0.57 each. MTC has made 49% of its shares available on the Namibia Stock Exchange with the remainder still held by the state.
  • Uganda: MTN Uganda has received 5MHz of additional spectrum in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands. In exchange, MTN has committed to an average download speed of 8Mbps within 18 months and to offer national roaming within 6 months.
  • Nigeria: MTN’s spectrum license in the 900MHz and 2100MHz band has been renewed for another 10 years.