The centre of global development is always shifting, and if the past few years are any indication, it is now swiftly shifting toward the African continent. Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, and other African countries have shown tremendous growth in recent years, with advances in everything from manufacturing and education to renewable energy. If these countries are to sustain that growth over the long term, however, their businesses must have access to quality telecommunications services. The following telecom companies are filling this vital need. Ranked in order of annual revenue, these firms provide the resources necessary for businesses, non-profits, and government agencies across the African continent to coordinate their activities and achieve sustained growth.
As one of Nigeria’s leading telecommunications providers, 9Mobile offers 4G data plans, voice calls, digital content, and business phone services. The company currently has roughly 20mn subscribers, generating an annual revenue stream of $637mn. Besides supplying fast and reliable services, 9Mobile distinguishes itself with its extensive corporate social efforts, which include combating malaria, promoting care for those with HIV, providing career counselling, and contributing to Ebola containment efforts. It also seeks to minimize the environmental impact of its services, notably by designing eco-friendly SIM cards for mobile customers.
9. Vodafone Egypt
A subsidiary of the British telecommunications giant of the same name, Vodafone Egypt is a major provider of phone and internet services in the North African country. It was one of the first private companies to offer these services in the country, having won some of the Egyptian government’s earliest contracts when it began privatizing communications infrastructure in the late 1990s. Thanks to this early entry to the market and its ability to offer advanced phone services, Vodafone Egypt generates just under $1bn in annual revenue.
Though relatively new to the African continent, GloCom has quickly risen to prominence thanks to its quality SIM cards. These cards have become particularly popular in Accra, Ghana, where the company operates under the brand GloCom Mobile Ghana. It generates $1.178bn in annual revenue.
With 12mn subscribers and $1.893bn in annual revenues, Safaricom is one of the largest and most important mobile phone and internet providers in Kenya. The firm primarily focuses on providing telecommunications services in major cities including Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru, and Kisumu. It has become particularly important in recent years due to its mobile banking software, which has made it easier than ever for Kenyans to start and use bank accounts. Considering how important banking is for economic growth, this makes Safaricom one of the most critical drivers of development in Kenya.
6. Ethiopian Telecommunications Company
Often referred to simply as Ethio Telecom, this telecommunications company is a subsidiary of the government of Ethiopia, which uses it to provide phone and internet services for all Ethiopian citizens. It generates annual revenues of $1.91bn. The company is currently in the middle of efforts to expand telecommunications services to millions more Ethiopians. If successful, this effort will make business, education, and other key economic activities easier and more affordable throughout the country.
5. Etisalat Misr
Also known as Etisalat Egypt, this company is one of the fastest and most reliable telecommunications providers in the country. It was the first brand in the country to offer Downlink at a rate of up to 7.2 megabits per second, making it a favourite among Egyptians seeking consistent access to the internet. Thanks to this speed advantage and its competitive pricing features, Etisalat Misr provides internet access to 99% of the Egyptian population. This allows it to generate roughly $3bn in annual revenue.
4. Airtel Africa
A subsidiary of the Bharti Airtel company, Airtel Africa has 78mn subscribers on the African continent. It has been particularly successful in Nigeria and Ghana, which together account for 60mn of its customers. It has become popular among business professionals and others who have to travel from country to country. This is due in no small part to its One Network plan, which allows subscribers to buy a service plan in one country and use it at the same price in other countries. With so many subscribers in some of the continent’s most vibrant economies, Airtel Africa earns $3.5bn in annual revenue.
With more than 55mn customers, Vodacom has one of the largest subscriber networks on the continent. It provides telecommunications services in 40 different countries, including Mozambique, Nigeria, Zambia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon. It is particularly successful in the country where it is headquartered, South Africa, where it has 23mn subscribers and a market share of 58%. With such a large and widespread network of operations, Vodacom earns $5.4bn in revenue each year. The company’s success is due largely to its valuable promotions and flexible, affordable pricing structure.
2. The MTN Group
Based in South Africa, the MTN Group offers telecommunications services not only in Africa, but also in many European and Asian countries. The firm has been particularly successful in Nigeria, where it provides 35% of all telecommunications services. Combined with earnings in 19 other countries, this has allowed the MTN Group to generate $10.92bn in revenue, the second highest figure for any telecom firm on the continent. MTN is widely renowned for the quality and affordability of its services, having been named the Most Admired African Brand in 2015.
1. Orange Egypt
Originally known as Mobinil, Orange Egypt is the largest telecommunications company on the continent. It generates $11bn in annual revenue. The company has taken the lead in constructing telecommunications infrastructure, having installed underground coverage stations throughout Cairo and other major Egyptian population centres. It also collaborates with satellite companies to offer roaming services, providing its customers with the flexibility to make calls from a range of different locations.