Telecoms & IT

South Africa Telecoms  IT

Despite facing fierce competition and slowing revenues in 2015, South Africa’s telecoms operators are well placed to see growth in the near to medium term. The mobile market is approaching saturation and a shift from traditional voice and SMS to data is expected to drive future growth, particularly in 4G long-term evolution (LTE) services, which are slated to expand significantly in the next several years. Although market competition remains a significant challenge, recent moves to buy out illiquid companies with sizeable infrastructure networks could indicate the beginning of a period of consolidation in the industry. This could benefit long-term profitability and boost operators’ ability to improve service offerings and capture greater market share, lending an optimistic outlook to the country’s telecoms sector. South Africa’s ICT sector has shown rapid expansion over the past two decades. The government has increasingly sought to provide support for nationwide development of internet connectivity through the National Broadband Plan, while rising data demand and the burgeoning e-commerce and mobile payment segments will further underpin sector development. At the same time, a shift away from traditional voice and SMS services into the realm of data services is prompting telecoms operators to invest heavily in new fibre-optic and next-generation infrastructure. However, the country’s delayed digital TV migration and lack of available frequency spectrum, which is critical for the rollout of 4G LTE mobile broadband services, has slowed progress. Even as the country faces near-term obstacles and delays, rising recognition of ICT’s importance to inclusive economic growth should allow the sector to remain at the forefront of digital innovation on the continent.

This chapter contains interviews with Sifiso Dabengwa, Former Group CEO, MTN; and Asher Bohbot, CEO, EOH Holdings.