Telecommunications firm, MTN is committing about $10 billion in the next five years to improving infrastructure, especially telecoms on the continent.
The firm, which operates in about 17 African countries, with the largest market being Nigeria, said investment in the telecommunications industry is only going to increase in the years ahead.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of MTN Group, Ralph Mupita, disclosed this during the latest episode of ‘Connecting Africa’ when he spoke with CNN’s Eleni Giokos, who was exploring how Africa’s telecommunications industry is transforming business and gearing up for a more interconnected continent.
Mupita was one of the CEOs of several major telecommunications companies in Africa interviewed on how their products facilitate trade.
Mupita said: “Investment in the telecommunications industry is only going to increase in the years ahead. We are going to spend approximately $10 billion over the next five years to ensure that Africa has the infrastructure to power its growth.”
With the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) now on, and has opened up trade across the continent and many areas, the telecommunications sector is a key part of the transformation.
“I would argue that it’s not possible that we get the kind of growth that is anticipated under the agreement without the telecommunications sector,” Mupita said.
Looking into the future of the telecommunications firm, which closed at 280 million subscribers per year across all its markets, MTN is hoping to harness 5G technology across Africa.
Mupita said 5G is coming to Africa “and we are not going to get left behind. And as you start thinking about future technologies and how they can drive African growth, we will be right there as MTN for sure, and looking at how these technologies can be harnessed to drive socio-economic progress in the various countries that we operate in.”
CEO of MainOne Cables, Funke Opeke, also highlighted the importance of her firm’s infrastructure work.
“When you look at Internet penetration in our region, it was hovering in the 10 per cent range when we started. Today, it is 40 per cent and growing, so clearly a lot more eyeballs on the Internet. The big players are all here. The global tech giants want to be in Nigeria.”
She said MainOne stretches from Portugal to West Africa with landings along the route in Dakar, Abidjan, Accra, and Lagos.
Giokos also visited Vodacom, the second most valuable brand in Africa. Vodacom executives are thinking big after a 40 per cent jump in mobile traffic during the pandemic.
Group CEO of Vodacom, Shameel Joosub, spoke about the firm’s new financial services ‘super-app VodaPay,
“It is creating the opportunity for you to trade way beyond your geographical area. Before, if you had a physical store, you were limited to a certain geography. What this does is it opens it up, firstly within their broader country, but also there’s no reason why someone sitting in Nigeria cannot supply someone in Kenya. And moving into this free trade environment just allows companies to trade across multiple geographies,” he said.