Xiaomi targets tech-savvy South Africans

Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi is aiming to target a tech-savvy market in South Africa, says a distributor. By Duncan Alfreds, NewsAgency

The manufacturer, which has seen success in mainland China for its devices, is bringing the Redmi 2 and Mi 4 to SA through a distribution partnership with MIA Group.

“The phones that we’re bringing in – the Mi 4 and the Red Mi2 – they’re coming in at a very affordable price and I think that is how they’re going to differentiate themselves in this market,” Kerry Taoushiani marketing executive at MIA told Fin24.

She said that the company known as the “Apple of the East” has ambitious plans to grow its footprint in Africa through entering key markets.

“If you look at Xiaomi, they’re not going to Europe; they’re not even in the US. Africa is the biggest continent and growth for smartphones.


“We’re launching in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya first – we see that as the biggest countries in terms of the space for smartphone growth.”


According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), Xiaomi has been on a strong growth curve, taking fifth manufacturer spot from LG at 5.6% thanks to growth in China.

Xiaomi MI 4i smartphone

The company has also expanded to Brazil and battles for dominance in China with Huawei.

In SA, Samsung dominates the market with 56.6% market share thanks to devices across a wide price spectrum.

While not directly revealing the retail price in SA, Taoushiani suggested that the handsets would not sell in the premium price category.

“People are not prepared to spend 10, 12, 13 grand on a smartphone; they’re looking for quality. We’re talking to tech-savvy people who know quality when they feel it and I think that’s how they’re going to differentiate themselves.”

IDC shows that phones priced from $100 to $200 showed the healthiest growth, but Taoushiani didn’t hesitate from taking a shot at rivals who sell their phones under operator brand names.

“There’s a lot of white label phones that people just dump in Africa and think that your consumer is going to be stupid and not know the difference. People know and it’s about time that a brand offers the quality that you deserve as a person.” – Fin24

me&you Mobile reaches 6 000 users


With Cell C planning to add another mobile virtual network operator next year, MVN-X and me&you Mobile are showing good subscriber growth. By Gugu Lourie

me&you Mobile, which was launched successfully by MVN-X, has managed to garner more than 6000 customers in the past six months.

The operator is an agile business that has high a average revenue per user, making its foray into the telco space profitable.

Brett Howell, me&you Mobile CEO, told TechFinancials.co.za that the firm is planning to increase its customers to between 20 000 and 25 000 by the end of 2016.

“It’s been encouraging to see the uptake and we are ahead of our target. We thought people buying online our services could be an inhibition but they have enjoyed the experience. It’s easier and quicker,” explains Howell.


“Our churn has been very low and have seen number of customers porting to us,” said Howell, adding that the turnaround for porting customers wasn’t really bad as it was standing at two and half days.

Brett Howell, me&you Mobile CEO

me&you Mobile is South Africa’s first MVNO to offer 100% e-Commerce based and month-to-month contract option.

Howell said me&you Mobile was excited about the future.

“I think the potential that’s still there and there is a lot of customers; many have not heard of us and not don’t know too much about us. When they do know of us it becomes a no brainer for them to join us.”

MVN-X was launched 18 months ago by ex-Virgin Mobile boss Steve Bailey, who was also influential in the launch of me&you Mobile and mrpmobile.

“MVN-X has 120 000 postpaid customer since launch in May 2014,” Bailey told TechFinancials in an interview at Park Hyatt Hotel in Johannesburg.

MVN-X aims to form mutual beneficial partnerships with leading retailers and brands diversifying into the mobile space.

It acts as a middleman between the mobile phone operators and MVNOs by offering the technology, infrastructure and operating systems.

MVNOs, which piggyback on Cell C’s network to offer mobile data and voice services, remains a niche market for existing and new players

Bailey said most of MVN-X customers were from the metros

The MVNO market in South Africa has been enabled by Cell C, which opened its network to the niche operator to target customers with exciting products and services.

The MVNO market is growing fast and Cell C is planning to cash up on the growth.

FNB, which also piggyback on Cell C’s network, has reached 100 000 active Sims since launch in June.

MVN-X to help a media firm to launch an MVNO


Imagine a media company diversifying its revenue streams by becoming a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) like FNB Connect, Virgin Mobile, me&you Mobile, SmartMobile and mrpmobile. MVN-X is assisting a South African media firm to do just that. By Gugu Lourie

Former Virgin Mobile boss Steve Bailey, who was instrumental in the launch of Me&You Mobile and MRP Mobile through his firm MVN-X, is assisting a local media firm to launch a successful MVNO.

Bailey disclosed in an interview to TechFinancials.co.za that MVN-X was working hard to establish another MVNO in South Africa.

“We are very upbeat about it. So, we’ve got a new MVNO launching in February, which is going to be quite interesting,” reveals Bailey.

“It’s actually a media company. It makes sense if you are a media company you’ve got advertising. So one of the key thing that mobile needs is advertising; you can use your advertising to to drive mobile.

“It’s a media asset that’s going to launch an MVNO either it’s a newspaper, magazine or radio. I won’t tell but its coming in February 2016.”

It is easy to imagine the possible launch of Daily Sun Mobile, Metro FM Mobile, Sowetan Mobile or YFM Mobile.

Bailey told TechFinancials.co.za that a number of retailers, banks and other companies are showing an interest in a South African mobile market that is worth more than R100 billion a year and targeting 1% or R1 billion of the MVNO space.

MVNOs, which piggyback on Cell C’s network to offer mobile data and voice services, remains a niche market for existing and new players

MVN-X, which was founded 18 months ago, aims to form mutual beneficial partnerships with leading retailers and brands diversifying into the mobile space.

It acts as a middleman between the mobile phone operators and MVNOs by offering the technology, infrastructure and operating systems.

Expanding into the rest of Africa at Rocket speed


Expanding your business north of the Limpopo is an excellent growth strategy if you’re looking to capture new markets and become a truly international operation. But while heading up into the rest of Africa can be a lucrative and exciting move for your business, it should be done for the right reasons.

Rocketseed South Africa – a home-grown tech company that helps organisations to cultivate marketing capital through email branding – recently embarked on an expansion drive into Africa. Since the first deal was done in August 2014, Rocketseed is active in two African countries outside of South Africa – and it’s not planning on slowing down.

Rocketseed South Africa MD Tess Sulaman says the secret lies in careful planning, and not letting your ego get the better of you.

“There was never any doubt that we were going to expand into the rest of Africa,” she says. “It’s a no-brainer. Some of the world’s fastest growing economies are on the continent, and we want to be part of that expansion.”

However, Sulaman explains, most of Africa’s economic growth comes from development in the small- and micro-business sectors, which don’t fit neatly into Rocketseed’s client base.

“The vast majority of our clients are government departments and agencies, large corporates and multinationals,” says Sulaman. “So even though there is all this wonderful economic growth happening, our studies told us that it wouldn’t be viable for us to set up operations elsewhere on the continent.  The business environment simply wouldn’t support our operating model and we would, in all likelihood, be forced to shut our doors within months.”

Instead, Rocketseed opted to go the reseller network route, forming partnerships with agents across the African continent who then include Rocketseed’s email marketing services in their client offerings.

“Our first partnership was with Tryangle, a digital marketing agency in the Ogilvy stable, based in Mauritius,” says Sulaman. “It’s been going for several months now and the results are beginning to bear fruit. We have seen promising benefits by going this route. The in-country agents provide local content – which means there are no language or cultural barriers to overcome in the communication itself – and we provide the technology. Everybody wins, which is what it’s all about at the end of the day.”

Rocketseed’s Business Development Director Antonio Petra says that the stability of the Rocketseed platform makes it suitable for almost any digital environment.

“There are so many myths about Africa’s online infrastructure – that it’s slow, porous and unreliable,” says Petra. “In our experience, this is not the case at all. In fact, we have found it to be none of these things. Sure, there are differences, but it’s nothing we can’t adapt to.”

As Rocketseed’s Africa expansion unfolds, the company continues to develop relationships with marketing agencies and IT providers across the continent, targeting well-known IT growth hubs in Mauritius, Kenya, Angola and Nigeria.

“Our email marketing offering spans a number of sectors, including software development, IT implementation, digital communication, monitoring and evaluation. Usually we offer our services as a bundle, but by separating out certain functions we have been able to access new markets and new client segments. These, in turn, have not only helped us to grow our bottom line, but also generated a non-rand-based revenue stream. This cross-currency trading has helped us, to some extent, to hedge against the massive volatility we have seen recently – and which we expect will continue for the foreseeable future.” Adds Petra

As will Rocketseed’s expansion, no doubt.

“Yes,” says Sulaman, “we have big plans for Africa. We’ve proved that it can be done, and we intend to keep on doing it until everyone on the continent knows who we are!”


AG Mobile to enter Nigerian market

AG Mobile, a local cell phone brand, is embarking on an expansion drive into Africa’s biggest economy – Nigeria – after being successful in Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. By Gugu Lourie

CEO Anthony Goodman, who founded the company 10 years ago and has grown it to provide feature phones and smart phones in most parts of southern Africa, outlines the expansion plans.

AG Mobile supplies mobile phone operators and retailers such as Ackerman, Pep Stores and Edgars with feature phones, smartphones and tables.

The company recently teamed-up with South African hip-hop artist Cassper Nyovest to sponsor his recent Fill Up the Dome event.

Anthony Goodman, AG Mobile’s CEO and Founder

AG Mobile signed a partnership to produce an exclusive Casper Nyovest-inspired smartphone brand. In the past it has used other musicians such as Kabelo Mabalane and DJ Fresh to promote its brand.

AG Mobile may use the same strategy in Nigeria to quickly build its brand among Nigerians, who love their music.

The company is planning to sell its phones in Nigeria before Christmas.

“We now have started our business in Nigeria, which is coming on 1 December 2015. We have identified a trade partner and an exclusive distributor in Nigeria, who has been in distribution for a long time,” says Goodman.

AG Mobile has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Ringo, a Nigerian telecommunication service and solutions provider, which has its headquarters in Ikeja in Lagos State.

“Ringo, supplies the operators. They also have their own stores,” Goodman says.

“Nigeria is an open market and we will have an online strategy with Jumia. We will be doing extensive marketing in Nigeria.”

About tackling the ‘tough’ Nigerian market, Goodman says: “We are ready. It’s tough in certain respects, but I don’t believe it’s tougher than South Africa.”

Read: Nigeria proves to be a poisoned chalice for South African companies


AG smartphones

The Nigerian market is a gateway to the West African region, in which AG Mobile doesn’t have a footprint.

Asked if AG Mobile will use Ringo to expand into other parts of West Africa such as Ghana and Senegal, Goodman says: “We haven’t discuss that. We’ve got a Nigerian strategy with Ringo. We definitely have a West Africa and other African countries strategy, whether is aligned with Ringo I can’t give you a clearer answer”.

“Certainly will look at Jumia to go to West Africa market and other markets where Jumia has presence. Obviously, once we found some success with Jumia, which I am confident of that will lead us to all the countries they have an online presence.”

Jumia is Nigeria’s No.1 online retailer.

AG Mobile also works with Taiwanese chipset supplier MediaTek to design its own feature phones and smartphones.

“AG Mobile are in Nigeria to establish a brand and deliver quality,” says Dominique Friedl, a director of corporate sales in South and sub-Saharan Africa for MediaTek.

Friedl suggests that AG Mobile could leverage on the popularity of Nollywood and musicians in Nigeria to grow AG Mobile’s brand.

He praised AG Mobile for opting to work with local partners to enter the Nigerian market instead of following global brands that operate from either the Middle East, China or Europe to distribute its products in Africa’s most lucrative market.

“I think it’s fundamental to have a local partnerships. That’s the nature AG Mobile has decided to launch in Nigeria.”

AG Mobile will take to Nigeria its recently launched smartphones in South Africa, the Ghost and Style. It is also

The Ghost accessories
The Ghost accessories

taking two new smartphones – the Zoom and the Boost to entice Nigerian customers.

Goodman believes that these handsets would differentiate AG Mobile in the Nigerian market.

The Nigerian market is really tough and the customers are tech savvy.

“I believe the Nigerian market is mature and despite the price we think we will attract customers by virtue of having good products (smartphones),” says Goodman

AG Mobile – which was the first to launch its own brand of phone in South Africa in 2007, and has since launched over 50 other devices – guarantees replacement of any faulty device for the lifetime of the phone, and three years after the phone has been discontinued.

The warranty includes the replacement of two cracked screens – at no charge. While AG Mobile pride itself on swopping out a high percentage of its phones, the lifetime warranty and screen replacement refers exclusively to AG Mobile flagship device the Ghost.

Goodman wouldn’t be drawn into commenting on the numbers of smartphones the company is planning to sell in the first month in Nigeria.

“We haven’t entered the market and is difficult to provide a clear indication of how many phones we will sell a month in Nigeria. We are going to be aggressive and market our brands in Nigeria aggressively,” says Goodman

Moving into Nigeria may give AG Mobile’s business a fillip for its smartphones and make it one of the biggest African-based smartphone manufacturer.

“It’s fantastic to enter the Nigerian market. Our next entry into real growth and we are very excited of prospects being able to give Nigerians what we have been giving South Africans – a well-priced, quality product,” says Goodman.

Email TechFinancials.co.za at: editor@techfinancials.co.za

Cwele serves charges on telecoms DG

Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Dr. Siyanbonga Cwele has served charges on his department’s Director-General (DG) Rosey Sekese. By Gareth van Zyl, NewsAgency

This comes after Cwele put Sekese on precautionary suspension in August for two months amid a probe being launched into leadership problems at the department.

Business technology publication ITWeb reported in March this year that insiders said Sekese has allegedly been on a “witch hunt” to purge staff members who oppose her.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services did not, on Wednesday, want to comment on what Sekese has been charged with until the process is completed.

“Ms Sekese was served with charges and the disciplinary process started on Tuesday, 03 November 2015,” read a statement from the department.

“The Department will advise the public once these processes have been concluded by the chairperson of the inquiry,” said the department

Qoza, though, did say that the precautionary suspension and current process of charges launched against Sekese are not affecting work at the department.

“We’ve had an interim DG in the period that Rosy was suspended,” Qoza told Fin24.

The department in August announced at the time that it had appointed Tinyiko Ngobeni as the acting DG.

Meanwhile, the investigation against Sekese by the department was also launched after opposition political party the Democratic Alliance (DA) had raised concerns that a leadership exodus at the ministry could impact on the likes of a government broadband roll-out project.

In July, Deputy Director-General (DDG) Sam Vilakazi resigned after Sekese fired two other DDGs Themba Phiri and Gift Buthelezi. – Fin24

Nigeria proves to be a poisoned chalice for South African companies


Coming shortly after Tiger Brands CEO, Peter Matlare, decided to throw in the towel, partly due to a Nigerian mess, the fall of MTN Group CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa, comes to entrench the view that Nigeria stands as a poisoned chalice for a number of South African corporations. By Ujuh Reporter

With the largest population (about 178.5 million people) on the African continent, Nigeria has for a while been touted as the holy grail within the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative. This was capped by the rebasing of the Nigerian GDP calculation which positioned the country as the largest economy on the African continent.

The rebased numbers placed Nigeria’s GDP at more than $500bn which is far larger than South Africa’s $350bn. The Nigerian economy had been growing at about 7% per year in recent years before the commodities depression, which collapsed the oil price, set in.

A McKinsey Global Institute study, conducted before the collapse of the oil price, suggested that theNigerian economy could triple in GDP size by 2030 to become a $1.6 trillion economy and join the top 20 global list.

 As such corporation across the globe are scrambling for an exposure with South African companies amongst the leaders in this rush. Nigeria has nevertheless proved to be a highly volatile place to do business as the MTN case shows. There are a couple of other South African ventures which have gone wrong including the Telkom and Tiger Brands ventures.


Dabengwa resigned on Monday with immediate effect following a Nigerian blow. Phuthuma Nhleko, former MTN Group CEO who is now chairperson assumes the executive role for six months. The telecoms giant has been slapped with a $5.2bn (R71bn) fine by the Nigerian Communications Commission for allegedly failing to satisfactorily see through a SIM registration process. This has spooked the market, sending MTN share price tumbling down by about 20%, about R60bn in a few days. The stock has since recovered but is still more than 10% down.

MTN is one of the pioneers when it comes to the exploration of the Nigerian market by South African business alongside Shoprite. MTN entered the Nigerian market in 2001 and grew to become the largest player in the West African country with 62.8 million subscribers. This number gives MTN 49.4% Nigerian market share.

Nigeria is now the largest unit in the MTN Group contributing R53.9bn of the total R146bn revenue recorded in 2014. The second largest country operation is South Africa with R38.9bn revenue from a subscriber base of about 29 million. The MTN Nigeria fine has largely been described as ridiculous.

Standard Bank

Another South African corporation, Standard Bank, was hit by a surprise around the same time as MTN. Standard Bank’s Nigerian unit Stanbic IBTC has been charged and sanctioned by Nigeria’s Financial Reporting Council for allegedly irregular financial reporting. The council slapped Stanbic IBTC with a penalty of $5m and banned four directors from signing the financials of the bank in future. The council’s move was condemned, as irregular in itself, by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Tiger Brands

South African food producing giant, Tiger Brands, has also burnt its fingers badly in Nigeria. In a move that consolidated its Nigerian presence Tiger Brands acquired Dangote Flour Mills in 2012. The operation, one of the largest food producers in Nigeria, was acquired from Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote for about R1.6bn plus debt of about R1.5bn. The business appeared to have been deeply sick when Tiger Brands acquired it with a hope of fixing it. The problems were deeper than Tiger Brands understood.  The once profitable company has slipped deep into a loss making positions and Tiger Brands has already written off more than half of its Dangote Flour Mills investment. Tiger Brands CEO, Peter Matlare, announced his resignation last month and will vacate the office at the end of the year after serving the company as CEO for about seven years. It is difficult to ignore the Nigerian factor, amongst others, in Matlare’s departure.


South Africa’s telecommunications giant, Telkom, lost obscene amounts of money in a Nigerian venture. Telkom entered the Nigerian market in 2009 via a $410m acquisition of a telecommunications service firm called, Multi-links. Cracks were showing 12 months after the deal due to a combination of factors. Views of what caused the trouble included that Telkom overpaid and wrong technology choice. When Telkom decided to call it quits in 2011 it had written off about R10bn.


Seeing the remarkable success of Shoprite in Nigeria, Woolworths attempted to catch the Naija Trainand burnt its fingers. Woolworths entered the Nigerian market in 2012 by opening up three store, two in Lagos and one in Enugu. It did not take too long for Woolworths to pull back saying the trading conditions were note suitable. In 2013 Woolworths announced a decision to close all three stores and issued strong statements explaining the decision. Woolworths CEO Ian Moir was quoted saying: We made a mistake going into Nigeria. We were never going to make money in the next five to 10 years in Nigeria.”

Moir cited the ‘ridiculously high rent’, an unwieldy bureaucracy and poor transport infrastructure to move goods around. “My view was that you are better admitting a mistake as soon as you see the mistake rather than trying to stumble on and pretend it’s not there.

“We couldn’t even get fixtures and fittings in. You can’t get a bag of screws in and every time you go to do a shop fit you have to itemise every screw, every nail, every bit of wood, it’s just so difficult.”

What happens to Vodacom if its bid to buy Neotel is blocked?


If South Africa’s Competition Tribunal does not give the go-ahead for Vodacom to buy Neotel, the country’s biggest mobile phone operator still has an ace up its sleeve. By Gugu Lourie

The tribunal is set to hear Vodacom’s application for the acquisition of Neotel between 23 November 2015 and 11 December 2015.

The proposed R7 billion transaction has already been approved by the country’s communications watchdog, ICASA.

However, the deal is being opposed by rivals Telkom, MTN and Cell C.

ICASA’s decision to approve the proposed transaction has also been taken on review in the High Court by Telkom, MTN, Cell C and Dimension Data.

Vodacom, which is owned by British mobile phone giant Vodafone, is keen to see the deal being finalised by 11 December so that it can aggressively roll out its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-business (FTTB) services.

But what happens if the deal is blocked by the Competition Tribunal or the courts.

Shameel Joosub, Vodacom CEO
Shameel Joosub, Vodacom CEO

Unfazed Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub tells TechFinancials.co.za there is another option.

“Effectively, the money we will spend on Neotel we would then spend it on building a credible fibre business.”

Vodacom is ready to pay R7 billion to acquire Neotel and that’s the amount of cash that Vodacom would use to build a credible fibre business if the deal is blocked.

When asked if Vodacom is banking too much on Neotel, Joosub said: “We have put a lot into it (Neotel) to be fair, but we are hopeful that people will see what the Neotel deal will bring to South Africa.”

Joosub is on record as saying that combining the two companies would enable Vodacom to focus on getting fibre connections to more homes and businesses.

The end result will be an acceleration of the roll-out of “fibre to the home” and “fibre to the business” solutions.

That said what happens to Neotel if Vodacom deal is scrapped?

Market talk suggested as early as 18 December 2014 that Neotel was in the process of preparing to build its own mobile arm if the Vodacom deal collapsed.

Launched in 2006 to compete with Telkom, Neotel owns a lucrative 800MHz spectrum, which is at the heart of concerns raised about the pending Vodacom-Neotel deal.

In the meantime, Joosub told Business Day newspaper that Vodacom will seek certain guarantees and securities from Tata Communications to cover any potential liabilities that may arise from its acquisition of Neotel following fraud allegations at the fixed-line company.

The Mail & Guardian reported in July that Neotel paid R66m — allegedly in kickbacks — from April last year to February this year to a company called Homix to secure a R1.8bn contract to provide network-related services to Transnet.

Who will be MTN’s next CEO?


The sudden resignation this week of MTN Group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa over the Nigeria $5.2 billion fine fiasco resulted in Africa’s largest mobile phone operator losing more than R80 billion of its market value. MTN old hand Phuthuma Nhleko has been put back in charge for six months to steady the ship, the question is who will take over after that? By Gugu Lourie

MTN has swiftly moved to install non-executive chairman and board member Phuthuma Nhleko at the helm of the company, while it tries to find an amicable solution with Nigerian authorities over the staggering US$5.2 billion fine.

MTN, which was fined for failing to deactivate SIM cards that were not complying with Nigerian laws, is still in talks with that country’s government ahead of the deadline to pay.

“The deadline set for the payment of the fine is November 16,” Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) spokesman Tony Ojobo was recently quoted by AFP as saying.

MTN old hand Phuthuma Nhleko has been put back in charge for six months to steady the ship,

As a trusted executive, Nhleko is expected to step in and sort out the mess in Nigeria, while the telco conducts a wider search for Dabengwa’s permanent replacement.

Maybe, the MTN board, will not cast its net too far in the search for a new chief executive – which has become something of a norm at the company.

I am inclined to believe that the interim executive chairman position given to Nhleko will be extended after the six months period.

It goes without saying that Nhleko will want to stabilise MTN.

After all he has bragging rights of being behind the “great” project that has created Africa and Middle East mobile phone giant, before handing over the CEO position to someone else.

Why would that be a case?

I am toying with a number of theories.

First, and most critical, Nhleko didn’t leave MTN after returning as non-executive chairman. He has always been keen to see his ‘project’ being bigger than it was before the Nigeria troubles surfaced.

MTN has until November 16 to pay the $5,2 billion fine for failing to deactivate SIM cards that failed to meet Nigerian laws.

But, could this be the opportunity for Nhleko to be the night in shining armour and rescue MTN in its time of deep need of leadership.

Then the big question is – does Nhleko want the position of CEO of MTN?

Obviously, we will only find the answer to this question when the board decides who the right man for the job is.

After all he once occupied this position before handing over the reigns to Dabengwa. This week Dabengwa threw in the towel over the Nigeria mess – as a result for the next six months Nhleko will be in charge at MTN.

That said, the fact that the board of MTN decided on the arrangement is a vote of confidence in Nhleko.

He is clearly prepared to rebuild and reclaim some of his relationships built when he took the leap of faith that saw MTN invest in Nigeria.

With MTN back in safe hands the hunt for a new CEO might fall down the priority list way past the six month period.

Another reason MTN won’t be too hasty in appointing a new permanent CEO is that competent locals, might not necessarily have the experience and know how to tackle the Nigeria fiasco.

There is nothing to suggest that Nhleko won’t be able assemble a solid team to solve the challenges being faced by MTN in Nigeria over not complying with subscribers’ registration leading to the multi-billion dollar fine.

Nhleko still has a few days to try and negotiate a way forward with Nigerian authorities.

That is why I do not think that MTN will have a new CEO in the next six months.

Furthermore, this could be a reality if analysts quoted by Fin24 are on the money.

“It was inevitable that heads would roll,” World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck told Fin24 on Monday in his reaction to Dabengwa’s resignation.

This could be a sign that the CEO was ineffective at moving ahead with negotiations with the Nigerian regulator or that he was pushed by the board, Goldstuck explains to Fin24.

Sifiso Dabengwa, MTN Group President and CEO
Sifiso Dabengwa, ex-MTN Group President and CEO

While Steven Ambrose, CEO of research firm Strategy Worx, told Fin24 that it is no surprise that Dabengwa has quit.

“And I think this is the first of a couple of high-profile resignations, to be honest,” Ambrose said.

I wonder if MTN would by-pass top internal top executives for the position of CEO simply because they were part of Dabengwa’s team that landed the company on the wrong side of Nigerian regulations.

Perhaps potential candidates, save for Nhleko, might be best advised to wait until the Nigerian storm has blown over before they raise their hands to be CEO.

One such candidate would be Karel Pienaar, MTN Group’s chief strategy, mergers and acquisition officer.

He has been an executive at MTN since 2001. Pienaar was deployed as a CEO of MTN Nigeria for a year to oversee the operation of the business after the licence was awarded in Nigeria.

It would make sense for MTN board to consider Pienaar for the position of CEO given his experience in Nigeria.

If the MTN board is looking at a highly experience executive, who is an outsider but has recently became a some sort of an insider at MTN, with no baggage of internal politics they could look to MTN Zakhele’s chairperson, Sindi Mabaso-Koyana.

Mabaso-Koyana, is an incredible leader and has an impeccable record as an executive in corporate South Africa.

Having her as a leader could give MTN an energy boost and fresh ideas going forward.

That said, one can throw a number of executive names in the hat to run MTN, but for now MTN is in safe hands under Nhleko.

Although, Nhleko appears keen to lead and solve MTN’s problems in Nigeria, South Africa and Iran, potential candidates shouldn’t give up just as yet.

Six months is a long time in business.


Tshwane doubles free Wi-Fi data allocation

The City of Tshwane has doubled the daily data allowance on its public Wi-Fi programme. By Duncan Alfreds, NewsAgency

“Tshwane free Wi-Fi daily cap has been increased from 250MB to 500MB per day,” Alan Knott-Craig Jnr of Project Isizwe told Fin24.

The non-governmental organisation has been tasked with the installation of Tshwane’s Wi-Fi programme which has delivered over 700 hot spots in the metro.

Knott-Craig Jnr was quick to point to the consumer cost saving of the project.

“The equivalent monthly cost based on R120/GB is R1 800. In effect, Tshwane gives R1 800 worth of internet per month to people living in poor communities.”


The Tshwane model, which is the largest of its kind in the country, contrasts sharply with the City of Cape Town which is slowly rolling out services as funds become available.

“The roll-out of the City’s public Wi-Fi access points is informed by our Wi-Fi strategy and the need to ensure that the service is introduced in a sustainable manner,” André Stelzner, chief information officer of the City of Cape Town, told Fin24 recently.

However, Knott-Craig suggested that there was a fundamental difference in approach by the two metros.

“Cities must choose between the Tshwane free Wi-Fi model and the Cape Town open access model. Tshwane requires no direct business case and is aimed at addressing inequality by bringing free internet to poor communities.”

The City of Tshwane has spent R180m on the Wi-Fi rollout while in Cape Town, R152m will be spent on broadband in the 2015/16 financial year.

Cape Town also used a $315 000 grant to study the effect of social and technical aspects of broadband in Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha. There are 170 Wi-Fi active hotspots in Cape Town.

While Tshwane residents get 500MB of data per day, the Wi-Fi tender for 300 MyCiti buses specifies a minimum data allowance of 50MB per user per day.

“Despite the sales propositions of many service providers, in the entire world to date there has not been a successful commercialisation of a public free Wi-Fi network by selling extra data. Ever. Not even airports can monetise Wi-Fi and they have a virtual monopoly on high-income users of the internet,” said Knott-Craig Jnr. – Fin24