Vodacom to join Rwanda internet connectivity market

Vodacom Group, one of Africa’s largest mobile communications group, is entering the local market to offer connectivity services.
Telecom workers install fibre optic cables in Kigali. File.
Telecom workers install fibre optic cables in Kigali. File.

Vodacom Group, one of Africa’s largest mobile communications group, is entering the local market to offer connectivity services.

The firm’s entry into the local market is through a partnership with local internet service provider Axiom Networks.

Sources say that Vodacom, which is largely known for its telecom operations, will however not be entering the telecom space, which currently has two firms, MTN Rwanda and Airtel-Tigo Rwanda.

Through their tech subsidiary, Business Africa, Vodacom will be offering connectivity services to organisations in the country.

The connectivity services, which will include Value Added Services and Internet Of Things, will be targeting local enterprises, non-governmental organisations, as well as government agencies.

Johnny Kayihura, the co-founder and chief executive of Axiom Networks, told The New Times last week that the firm’s entry into the local market will elicit competition among players in the sector.

“This will foster competition among players in Rwanda, which is a good thing for customers as they will have a variety of options to choose from,” Kayihura said.

He said that, for his firm, partnership with such a brand was important as it gives them a continental footprint and they are able to offer better services to their clients.

Vodacom has a presence in about 40 countries in Africa, including East African countries.

There are currently about 20 registered internet service providers in the country.

However, the firms have been said to lack innovation capacity to drive the uptake of broadband across the country.

With the 20 firms competing over a small urban clientele, the firms have been accused of failing to tap into the larger market, especially in rural areas.

Of the about 4.9 million internet subscribers in the country as of December last year, over 4.8 million of them are subscribers of telecom operators. That means that other 17 non-telecom internet service providers are covering less than 90,000 clients.

The entrance of Vodacom into the local market has also left many curious if the firm is considering entering the telecom market. Officials from the firm had not commented by press time on their entry into the Rwandan market.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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