Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel to compete for telecom market share in Africa

Airtel Africa has a footprint in 14 countries across the continent. However, Reliance Jio, with deep pockets, will try to offer the same services on the continent.
The goal is to replicate this high-speed mobile data model across Africa, beginning with Ghana
The goal is to replicate this high-speed mobile data model across Africa, beginning with GhanaPhoto | Express

NEW DELHI: After competing in India, the country’s two largest telecom operators -- Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel -- are set to vie for market share in Africa.

Eight years after Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator Reliance Jio will launch its services on the African continent. Today, Ghana has partnered with a subsidiary of Reliance Jio, Radisys, Tech Mahindra, and other vendors to deliver affordable 5G mobile broadband services across Ghana.

“The Government of Ghana, Ascend Digital, K-NET, Radisys, Nokia, and Tech Mahindra, with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) AT Ghana and Telecel Ghana, today announce their partnership on a new shared infra Next-Gen InfraCo. (NGIC). The Next-Gen Infrastructure Company (NGIC) has been awarded a 5G license and expected to launch 5G services across Ghana within the next six months, followed by expansion to other parts of Africa,” said Radisys, in a press note.

As per the company, NGIC plans to adopt India’s successful model of affordable handsets, digital platforms, and localized content and applications. The goal is to replicate this high-speed mobile data model across Africa, beginning with Ghana.

“The creation of a shared 5G Mobile Broadband Infrastructure is critical for delivering affordable, high-speed data access to the people of Ghana and achieving our Digital Ghana vision,” Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister for Communications and Digitalization of Ghana.

“We are inspired by India’s digital infrastructure and low-cost mobile data usage and keen to replicate it in Ghana,” said the minister.

The partnership gives access to Reliance Jio, India’s largest telecom operator and also known as the disrupter of India’s telecom market with cheap and free plans in the African continent. The company, within eight years of its launch of services in India, became a top player with more than 40% share of the Indian telecom market’s wireless segment.

The telco, which started its telecom services in September 2016 with a meager 1.52% market share, outpaced its competitors, especially Bharti Airtel, to second spot with around 32% market share. However, replicating the same feat in Africa seems difficult as Airtel has already cemented its position as the second-biggest telecom company in the continent after South Africa’s MTN. The Africa unit generates as much as 27% of the telco’s consolidated revenues. Airtel Africa has a footprint in 14 countries across the continent. However, Reliance Jio, with deep pockets, will try to offer the same services on the continent.

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