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Top 8 mobile networks in africa

Telecommunication in Africa continent

continent has gone a long way starting from way back. Africa continent takes the second place in the word when you talk about highest mobile subscribers with Asia being the first. One of the reasons mobile phones are so popular in Africa is that land lines are expensive. But the rush to mobile seems to be having second-order benefits on economic development.The World Bank argues that all this connectivity is bringing much-needed innovation to a continent with wide variability in the quality of its infrastructure. This development includes telemedicine in rural areas that are otherwise under-provisioned with health workers, mobile-to-mobile money-transfer services for people without bank accounts, and climate adaptation measures like crop insurance and GPS mapping for anti-deforestation measures.

It took African mobile operators a long time to realize the kind of innovation that could set them apart from their counterparts was not going to spring from in-house. Across the tech conference circuit over the last few years there have been regular complaints from OTT providers like WeChat and Mxit that operators have not realized their role is to be “pipes” for services, rather than providing the services themselves. The operators did not want to be “dumb pipes”.

That, thankfully, is something that has changed. Africa’s mobile operators have accepted they are pipes, if not “dumb” ones. The continuing inaccessibility of rural populations, the slow growth of Africa’s middle class, and the failure for any truly impactful innovation to spring from within a telecom since M-Pesa led to this. Innovation is now happening at a great pace.

Operators reacted by seeking out innovative companies that can provide the quality services that will help differentiate, say, Safaricom from Airtel, while allowing the operator to do what it does best: provide quality, reliable connectivity. “Africa’s mobile operators” have increasingly come to see they must innovate to prosper, and that this innovation lies outside company doors.

Safaricom launched a US$1 million investment fund, and invested in e-courier service Sendy. It has also partnered local Kenyan startups Dynamic Data Systems and Eneza Education to roll out services for its customers on top of its network. Other operators haven’t been left behind. Orange has backed two African companies, while Airtel has signed partnerships with as Ghanaian fintech startup Zeepay, Nigerian matchmaking service MatchUP, and delivery app Yuzah.

The crux of all of this is that Africa’s mobile operators are gradually moving towards supporting the continent’s tech startup ecosystem to provide them with access to the innovations that will help them compete on services, rather than price, for customers in the coming years. The likes of MTN and Tigo have gone deeper still, launching accelerators and backing tech hubs to really get in on the ground floor.While entering into competition with a global titan like Uber may not make much sense, the diversification of business models does. With so much competition on the ground for such a small market, it makes sense for a company like Safaricom to look at other ways of using its marketing and tech muscle to make money. Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore says Kenyans can expect more such services from Safaricom. Expect to see similar diversifications across the board.Africa may well be the world’s premier mobile-first continent, but vast swathes of the population still don’t have mobile or internet connectivity. This is a severe limitation as local mobile networks plan out building a customer base, especially when the spending power of that base is low

1. Vodafone

A star and one of the major mobile network  in the United kingdom, Vodafone also has operations in Ghana, South Africa and Egypt. With 439.6-million subscribers, it is the second largest network in the world, after China’s China Mobile. The Chinese company has 649.5-million subscribers of which almost three quarters is owned by the Chinese government.

2. Telefónica

Spanish mobile network Telefónica, which includes Movistar, O2 and Vivo, is currently ranked as the fourth largest network, with just over 231.8-million subscribers. Operations span from Latin America to Western Europe, running networks in Sudan (as Sudan Unicom), and Morocco.

3. Airtel

Airtel, one of Africa’s most popular networks, has a subscriber base of just over 227-million users. The Indian company operates in Burkina Faso, Chad (Airtel Chad), Republic of the Congo (Airtel Congo Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of the Congo (Airtel DRC), Ghana (Airtel Ghana), Kenya (Airtel Kenya), Nigeria (Airtel Nigeria), Uganda (Airtel Uganda) and others.

4. Orange

Orange, owned by France Télécom, is popular in several nations. With over 217-million users, the French network has set up shop in Botswana (Orange Botswana), Cameroon (Orange Cameroon), Egypt (Mobinil), Equatorial Guinea (Orange Equatorial Guinea), Ivory Coast, Kenya (Orange Kenya), Madagascar (Orange Madagascar), Mali (Orange Mali), Niger (Orange Niger), Senegal (Orange Senegal), Uganda (Orange Uganda) and Togo.

5. Beeline

Beeline might not seem familiar, but the Russian network has 199-million subscribers across the world, and is owned by VimpelCom. Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris owns a large stake in the company operating in Egypt (Mobinil), Algeria (Djezzy), Burundi (Telecel), Central African Republic (Telecel), Namibia (Telecel) and Zimbabwe (Telecel).

6. MTN Group

MTN is the largest mobile network in Africa, in terms of indigenous network — where the top five are owned and operated by non-African companies. With a subscriber base of 152.3 million, the company employs 17 509 workers, operating in 21 African countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Sudan and Congo.

7. Etisalat

Ranked the 15th largest mobile network in the world (approximately 135-million subscribers), UAE’s Etisalat operates in several Gulf nations, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Egypt and Gabon, as well as Ivory Coast, Niger and Nigeria.

8.  Qatar Telecom

Qtel is one of the “largest public companies in Qatar” with about 2 000 employees, and operates in Qatar, Algeria and Tunisia. In 2009, the company had just over 82-million subscribers. In 2011, Qtel became the first company in Qatar to reach internet trial speeds of 100 megabits per second.

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