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MTN, Safaricom race to clinch market share in the Ethiopian telecom sector

MTN and Safaricom are fighting to clinch market share in the Ethiopian telecom sector. 

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MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita.

Leading South African and Kenyan telecom operators, MTN and Safaricom, are fighting to clinch market share in the Ethiopian telecom sector, both recently bidding for licenses. 

Reuters cited Ethiopia’s Finance Ministry as saying on April 26 that it received bids from MTN and a consortium including Kenya’s Safaricom for new operating licenses. 

The ministry has launched a new licensing plan to help open up Ethiopia’s telecom industry. The move is considered a significant step in its push to liberalize the economy. Reuters reported that the liberalization would involve the sale of a 45-percent stake in Ethio Telecom, which also plans to launch mobile money transfer services.

In a statement to Reuters, MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita said that Ethiopia’s licensing process “represents the last and largest telco liberalization opportunity in the world.” 

Safaricom’s consortium includes its parent companies Vodacom Group, Vodafone Plc, UK sovereign wealth fund CDC Group and Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Corporation.

Although the license winners will be announced in the coming days, state officials have said the winners will secure full operating permits. Whoever wins the bid will be required to set up their own network infrastructure, such as cell-phone towers.

Etisalat, Axian, Orange, Saudi Telecom Company, Telkom SA, Liquid Telecom, Snail Mobile, Kandu Global Communications and Electromecha International Projects were also bidding for a license in Ethiopia, but dropped out of the race as of April 28. 

Business Daily reported that they were taken aback by the lack of transparency after it was announced that the winners would have to build their own network infrastructure. 

The Johannesburg-based MTN is Africa’s largest telecom operator, coming in ninth in the list of the world’s leading mobile operators, with 273 million customers in 21 markets. In September 2020, Mupita assumed the CEO role.

One-third of the company’s revenue comes from Nigeria. Tech Build Africa reported that Africa holds 40.1 percent of its telecom market share, with Nigeria accounting for 147 million Internet subscribers in July 2020.

Kenya’s Safaricom is exceptionally dominant on Kenya’s mobile money market, with almost a 99-percent market share as of July 2020. By December, Connecting Africa reported that Safaricom had the most significant mobile data subscription market share, at 67.5 percent, despite a 1.2-percent drop quarter-on-quarter. Businessman and top Kenyan executive Peter Ndegwa currently leads Safaricom as its CEO.

East Africa

Kenyan banking exec Andrew Ndegwa gains $1.5 million in 43 days from investment in NCBA Group

Ndegwa, an executive director of First Chartered Securities Limited, owns 4.3 percent of NCBA Group.

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Andrew Ndegwa.

After losing a sizable portion of its market capitalization in the first half of 2022, NCBA Group has seen its share price soar above its opening price at the start of this year.

NCBA Group is a financial services conglomerate based in Kenya.

Due to the recent gains in the company’s share price, Kenyan banking tycoon Andrew Ndegwa has seen the market value of his stake in the conglomerate increase by more than $1.5 million over the past 43 days.

As of press time on Aug. 12, shares in NCBA Group were trading at Ksh26.2 ($0.22), 4.73-percent less than their opening price this morning as wary investors took advantage of the high price to sell off some of their positions in the bank.

Since June 30, shares in the Nairobi-based financial services provider have risen by 11 percent, from Ksh23.6 ($0.198) per share to Ksh26.2 ($0.22) per share, driven by a resurgence in buying interest among market participants.

Ndegwa, an executive director of First Chartered Securities Limited, owns 4.3 percent of NCBA Group. He has seen the market value of his stake rise from Ksh1.67 billion ($14.02 million) on June 30 to Ksh1.86 billion ($15.57 million) due to the recent bullish sentiment on the NSE floor.

As a result, the banking tycoon has gained a total of Ksh184.36 million ($1.54 million) over the past 43 days, solidifying his status once more as one of the wealthiest investors on the NSE.

Meanwhile, James Ndegwa, his brother and the former head of Kenya’s capital markets authority, has seen his 4.23-percent stake in NCBA Group increase by $1.47 million over this same period.

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East Africa

Malagasy tycoon Hassanein Hiridjee says Africa needs to invest in clean energy transition

Hiridjee is one of Madagascar’s wealthiest and most powerful business leaders.

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Malagasy tycoon Hassanein Hiridjee.

Malagasy multimillionaire businessman and AXIAN Group CEO Hassanein Hiridjee has stated that Africa must invest in a clean energy transition to bolster the continent’s renewable energy capacity.

“We must double our commitment within Africa to increase investments to shape our own energy destiny in order to meet long-term goals,” Hiridjee said.

Millions of Africans could be lifted out of energy poverty with the right strategy and investment in clean energy transition projects stimulated by collective action from the private and public sectors, he said.

His statement comes after U.S. billionaire Michael Bloomberg pledged $242 million to assist developing countries, including African nations, in transitioning away from non-renewables.

Hiridjee explained that such funding is needed to combat Africa’s continuing energy crisis, in which hundreds of millions lack access to basic electricity.

He added that the lack of access to basic electricity is only worsening as a result of the war in Ukraine and COVID-19, with 25 million more Africans living without electricity than before the pandemic.

Infinity Group, a leading renewable energy company led by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour, recently partnered with the Africa Finance Corporation to acquire Lekela Power, making Infinity the continent’s largest renewable energy company.

Hiridjee, one of Madagascar’s wealthiest and most powerful business leaders, has also played a formative role in developing commercially viable energy solutions that provide Africans with efficient, long-term access to energy resources.

Earlier this year, Axian Group completed the expansion of the Ambatolampy solar power plant in Madagascar, from 20 to 40 MWp.

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East Africa

Ugandan tycoon Charles Mbire to pocket $1.15-million interim dividend from MTN Uganda

Mbire owns a significant 3.98-percent stake in the Ugandan telecom outfit.

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Charles Mbire.

Ugandan multimillionaire businessman Charles Mbire is on track to receive an interim dividend of Ush4.48 billion ($1.155 million) from his stake in MTN Uganda after the telecom group reported a double-digit percent increase in earnings in the first half of 2022.

MTN Uganda is Uganda’s leading telecom service operator.

Mbire, the chairman of MTN Uganda and one of Uganda’s wealthiest businessmen, owns a significant 3.98-percent stake in the Ugandan telecom outfit, which operates as the fourth operating subsidiary of the South African multinational mobile telecom company, MTN Group.

The interim dividend will be paid electronically into his bank account at a later date from the group’s retained earnings of Ush902 billion ($232.4 million) at the end of its 2022 fiscal year. It is his first dividend from the telecom company since its shares were listed more than eight months ago.

The dividend payment follows a significant rise in the group’s earnings in the first half of 2022 despite a 4.9-percent decline in voice revenue, as it looks set to replicate its stellar performance in 2021.

As a result of the company’s strong financial performance, the board of directors approved the payment of an interim dividend of Ush5 ($0.00128) per share for the six months ending June 30, totaling Ush11.95 billion ($28.9 million), which is subject to withholding taxes.

According to data retrieved from the company’s earnings report for the first six months of 2022, its profit increased by 48.1 percent to Ush193.6 billion ($50.2 million) in the first half of 2022, compared to Ush130.7 billion ($33.7 million) in the first half of 2021.

The double-digit increase in profit can be attributed to a 10-percent surge in the company’s service revenue, which was driven by a significant increase in data and fintech revenue, which were more than sufficient to offset the 4.9-percent decline in voice revenue.

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