Obviously there has to be some competition between/among companies in a particular industry and mobile operators are no different a sector. They compete with each other on all levels to satisfy their customers.
They may win market share, but do they have customers? With over 14 million people in Zambia, they have a large ocean to cast their net in. The problem is the reach of the mobile operators in all corners of the country. Some people still don’t have phones either due to financial problems, or because they simply would not know what to do with one.
The first step all MNOs should take is educate the public on the basic use of the phone, no matter how cheap it is. It’s a start. The assumption that operators go by is that everyone knows how to use a phone, or that they’ll be taught by someone else. That responsibility needs to be shifted ASAP.
According to IT News Africa, at the GSMA Mobile 360 Africa Conference held last month in South Africa, MTN Group Chief Executive Officer, Sifiso Dabengwa stated, “We think that instead of allowing such companies to fail – the regulators should allow them either to team up with others so they become bigger and able to survive or allow them to be acquired.”
We know competition has to be kept, but a monopoly should not be created either when it comes to particular mobile operators. They should work together on some things, but still provide competitive prices and services.
Recently Zambian mobile operators received a directive from ZICTA to halt freebies on their networks to decongest the mobile space and also to improve their quality of service (QoS). This shows how hard it is to run a telecoms company, or 3, but ZICTA has offered a way out. they constructed towers that MNOs can lease/rent to cut on their costs and improve their service. This is one way these mobile operators are being brought together. They can also share towers to increase their reach and maybe even pay to each other if the towers belong to a ‘rival’ MNO. In the end it will be a win-win situation for all.
The only project we have seen mobile operators work on together is the recently launched the Africa Against Ebola campaign where MTN and Airtel are now allowing subscribers to donate K2 to the fight against the Ebola virus by sending the words “Stop Ebola” to 7979.
The sooner they start finding ways to do projects together, the costs they are likely to cut and the more customers everyone of them get. It’s worth a shot.