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

Hot startup of the month: Pan-African fintech KamaPay

This month's hot startup is pan-African fintech KamaPay, which helps individuals and businesses make cross-border payments on the continent.

Story

Afretec awards $3.3M in grants to African research teams

The African Engineering and Technology Network (Afretec) has awarded grants worth $300,000 each to 11 university research teams across Africa to advance digital technologies.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Flash poll

All polls

Africa Tech Perspectives

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.

Story

Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

Story

Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

London Tech Week
June 13-16, 2023
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
Cybertech Africa 2023
August 1-2, 2023
Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up