ICT service providers generally view an expansion into African countries, other than South Africa, as strategically important for their businesses. Well-established markets on the continent make this an obvious area of growth for major players within the industry.
The expansion of domestic and international providers into the African market will help stimulate the development of knowledge-based industries and economies through reliable ICT solutions. At the same time ICT-related industry bodies will hopefully play their own role in capability development across the continent.
MTN and Dimension Data are two organisations leading the way. MTN’s African expansion strategy has been evident for a while and the company is actively pursuing a strong foothold on the continent. A recent example is the news that the Uganda leg of MTN seems set to buy Uganda Telecom (UTL). UTL is MTN’s rival company in Uganda and the acquisition will further solidify MTN’s presence in the country.
Also in Uganda, the first multi-stakeholder ICT forum has been launched. Using this forum, the Uganda ICT Association (ICTAU) aims to develop the professionalism in the ICT industry in Uganda, share knowledge and experiences, and provide guidance and advisory services to the government and private sector.
Dimension Data, successfully established both locally and internationally, has also demonstrated its continuing intentions to expand in Africa through its recent move to purchase AccessKenya. AccessKenya was the first ICT company to list on the NSE and has roughly 5000 corporate customers in Kenya.
On a broader note, the Intel Africa USF & Broadband Leaders Forum took place in Zanzibar this month. The aim of the forum is to bring together regulatory authorities, Universal Service Fund Managers, Government Ministries and broadband stakeholders to work together to deliver broadband to the continent. Again, this is seen as crucial to the economic and social growth of Africa as a whole.
It is evident that the expansion of ICT services to the continent is not only important to the economies that benefit from it and to the service providers themselves, but also to the existing customers of expanding ICT providers who wish to enter into other African markets with their current information and communication solutions in place.