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Mobile Operator, Movitel, Expands Connectivity into Rural Mozambique – Will Renamo Terrorists Stall the Momentum?

17 November, 2013
 
ICT Africa News
17 NOVEMBER, 2013

According to recent research on the Mozambique mobile communications market, the market research company, Frost & Sullivan has presented mobile operator, Movitel, with the 2013 Mozambican Frost & Sullivan Award for Competitive Strategy Leadership. Movitel has of late been turning mobile communications in Mozambique into a basic necessity in the low income areas of Mozambique, making its services widely available and affordable. Movitel’s unique strategy of investing in large, green field networks to cover the entire population, including rural and most remote areas of Mozambique, is expected lead to sustainable social development. This will not only benefit the people of Mozambique, but also widen Movitel's customer base.

Mozambique has a vast geographic area with a low population density, which requires high investment and an intricate roll out of network infrastructure, especially in the rural areas. Like most operators in Africa, the other mobile operators in Mozambique are focusing mainly on connecting urban areas with good return on investment. On the contrary, Movitel has built 2,500 2G/3G base stations and deployed 20,000 km of fibre optical cables, enabling it to cover 100 percent of Mozambique's districts and highways, and in the process, serve nearly 80 percent of the total population.

Movitel was able to gain competitive advantage by signing an agreement with the electricity company, Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM), the national power company, which facilitated rapid network deployment across the country. By gaining access to the much needed rights of way over EDM power lines, Movitel could easily deploy fiber optic infrastructure without the need to negotiate rights of way with multiple authorities and avoiding the high cost of under-ground trenching.

In addition, Movitel demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with any partner, including other operators, to share infrastructure and build networks.

Within one year of commencing commercial operations in Mozambique, Movitel was able to garner two million subscribers, which translates to 20 percent of the market share, by the end of 2012. In order to reach more customers in the rural areas, the company built a strong supply chain to sell its services door-to-door, thereby creating 20,000 jobs for sales agents. Additionally, it introduced preferential free packages that include free subscription charges, monthly bonus accounts, and infinite calls. Lastly, Movitel improved Internet connectivity to schools by offering free internet access to 2,500 schools nationwide.

"The Movitel brand is now established in Mozambique with high levels of awareness across the country, especially in rural areas and within the student populations that benefited from its free internet initiative," said Frost & Sullivan Information & Communication Technologies Industry Analyst Naila Govan-Vassen. "Additionally, the Movitel brand has gained the trust and support of the government due to the company's contribution to social development and the uplifting of the telecommunications sector."

Mozambique is now among the top three countries in the Sub-Saharan region (along with Nigeria and South Africa) with the strongest and most modern telecom infrastructure. Between 2010 and 2012, the infrastructure density of Mozambique doubled from 239 km per million people to 787 km per million people, and from 75BST per million people to more than 151BTS per million people. Movitel contributes to 70 percent of the country's fibre optical cable infrastructure and 60 percent of the mobile phone network infrastructure.

Unfortunately, a dark cloud hangs over the progress being made by Movitel to improve connectivity in Mozambique. After more than 20 years of peace in Mozambique, the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo) organisation has unleashed it’s bandits to terrorise the people of Mozambique. RENAMO, which was initially funded by Apartheid South Africa and racist Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to destabilise a newly independent nation of Mozambique in 1975 fought a brutal 15 year civil war against the government.

A peace agreement between the Mozambican government and REMANO recently broke down, leading to renewed violence. These new developments could have a profound impact on Movitel’s momentum and the impact of any other progressive forces to develop Mozambique.


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