Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

4G/5G

Sudatel Joins Zain in Sudan's 4G Market

Article Image
Sudanese telecom incumbent Sudatel has launched a 4G service for customers in its domestic market, the operator revealed earlier today.

While few details are currently available about the 4G launch, Sudatel says it is offering tariffs for both prepaid and postpaid customers "including affordable bundles for low-income customers." The operator also claims to have customers on the 4G network already.

The move comes about a year after mobile market leader Zain, the local subsidiary of Kuwait's Zain Group , launched Sudan's first 4G service, promising at the time that its network would cover about 20% of the population by the end of 2016.

That target seems to have been easily beaten, however, with Zain claiming to have reached about 30% of the population in its 2016 annual report.

Zain's 4G progress sets a high bar for Sudatel, which has been comparatively coy about its own 4G coverage targets and details of current availability. In its statement, Sudatel said it would expand 4G coverage to major cities and towns throughout Sudan over the course of 2017, without naming those communities.

"We have invested a significant amount in our 4G networks as we know that fast and reliable telecom infrastructure will help our country's economic development," said Tarig Hamza Zainelabdin, Sudatel's CEO, in a company statement.

4G Ambition
Tarig Hamza Zainelabdin, Sudatel's CEO, says the operator will expand 4G coverage to cities and towns throughout Sudan this year.
Tarig Hamza Zainelabdin, Sudatel's CEO, says the operator will expand 4G coverage to cities and towns throughout Sudan this year.

Despite the fanfare, there seems unlikely to be a big appetite for higher-speed mobile services among Sudanese consumers.

While Sudatel has yet to report earnings for 2016, the percentage of revenues that came from data offerings, including fixed-line services, rose from 10% in 2014 to just 13% in 2015, said the operator in its 2015 annual report.

Moreover, the average Sudatel customer spends as little as $2.7 each month, with 97% of subscribers on lower-cost prepaid packages.

Zain also generated about 13% of revenues from data services in 2016 -- although it lacks Sudatel's fixed-line presence.

Even so, Sudatel continues to regard the data services opportunity "as one of the main areas of growth in the future." And operators across the African continent are channeling more resources into their data businesses now that old-fashioned voice and messaging services offer such little scope for a sales increase.

But the rollout of better-performing data networks comes with risks: Telcos in other parts of Africa have blamed the take-up of Internet telephony and messaging applications for a decline in revenues from traditional offerings.

In some markets, the availability of low-cost data packages has even allowed customers to slash spending by taking advantage of an Internet service, like WhatsApp or Viber, and cutting back on usage of standard voice and messaging features.

Because so many of Sudatel's customers are on prepaid deals, and only pay for telco services when they actually use them, Sudatel could be more exposed to the risks than operators with significant numbers of postpaid users.

Regardless of the 4G uncertainties, Sudatel's domestic business has been growing at a steady rate in recent years.

In dollar terms, revenues were up 3.5% in 2015, to about $334.6 million, with subscriber numbers rising by the same percentage, to 7.568 million. In its annual report, Sudatel put the sales increase in local currency terms at about 6%.

But the incumbent remains a distant number two in the mobile market. Zain had 46% of the market at the end of 2016, according to its annual report, while Sudatel had a 28% share.

South Africa's MTN brought up the rear, with 26% of the market.

Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

Innovation hub

Story

Africa can leverage GenAI for economic growth – Microsoft

A whitepaper on generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) and the future of work has found that the African continent, with its young population, can leverage AI to drive economic growth.

Registration opens for Africa Tech Festival 2024

Registration has opened for the 2024 edition of Africa Tech Festival, the continent's leading platform for technology innovators, specialists and thought leaders.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Follow us on X

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Upcoming events

Cyber Revolution Summit
August 9, 2024
Gaborone, Botswana
Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 11-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.

Story

The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Guest Perspectives

Story

How e-mobility could transform Africa's transport sector

By Francis Hook

ICT analyst Francis Hook delves into Africa's e-mobility sector and unpacks the challenges faced locally and the benefits the move to electric vehicles could bring to urban transport systems.

Story

Omdia View: April 2024

By Omdia Analysts

April 2024's telecoms highlights in the Middle East and Africa included a license for Starlink in Ghana, new mobile termination rates in Ethiopia, and 6G trials in Bahrain – that and more in the latest Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up
Tag id test-002