Fierce competition looms as Tigo launches ‘talk for free’ promo

Tigo Rwanda has launched a ‘talk for free’ promotion that could leap or spark off fierce competition in Rwanda’s telecom market as government seeks to double the number of subscribers by 2015.
Tigo’s Marketing Manager Ndabaneze and CEO Marcelo Aleman selling products to revellers recently (File Photo)
Tigo’s Marketing Manager Ndabaneze and CEO Marcelo Aleman selling products to revellers recently (File Photo)

Tigo Rwanda has launched a ‘talk for free’ promotion that could leap or spark off fierce competition in Rwanda’s telecom market as government seeks to double the number of subscribers by 2015.

The promotion dubbed ‘Be Free’ allows Tigo’s pre-paid and post paid mobile subscribers to call and pay for only the first 3 minutes of the call, and thereafter talk for free.

Tigo’s promotion comes days after MTN Rwanda launched a 12-day promotion, slashing 80 percent off MTN-to-MTN calls launched on the 25th of September. Tigo countered by emphasizing that the company’s Rwf10 per minute promotion is actually an 89 percent discount off Tigo to Tigo.

MTN launched a ‘Scratch and Win’ promotion this week in which subscribers buy an MTN airtime card, scratch it and win something.

In August MTN which boasts of 2.3 million subscribers launched a series of promotions to celebrate the company’s 12 year existence in Rwanda, including discounts on the MTN Zone and an offer on Wi-Fi booster at “unbelievable prices.” 

Rwandatel had earlier, on 16th August, launched a Rwf3 per minute promotion on calls between Rwandatel customers. The company claims to have increased subscribers by 35 percent since the promotion was launched.

However, according to figures from Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Agency (RURA) Tigo surpassed Rwandatel recently as the 2nd most subscribed telecom operator in Rwanda after attaining over 500,000 subscribers in a period of just seven months.

Tigo is currently running a series of promotions including one ‘Tira Tigo’ through which a subscriber borrows money using a Tigo line; talks and gets to pay for it later.

The new promotions are drivers of the current price war which many see as being the result of growing competition in the market, as regulator RURA considers a reduction of the interconnection fees. With only three players in the Rwandan market, RURA has temporary shelved plans to license a fourth operator in Rwanda until a policy decision is made.

The competition also represents significant savings for mobile phone customers across the country. The latter are currently paying an average of Rwf40 on mobile telephone calls across networks.

According to Nina Ndabaneze, Marketing Manager of Tigo, the new ‘Be Free’ promotion commenced on Friday and is on-going.

“Basically, with this promotion we are telling our clients to talk with absolute freedom. The call is charged for the first three minutes at a promotional fee of Rwf20; thereafter you may talk free of charge,” Ndabaneze told Business Times.

“The promotion runs every day from midnight to 6 pm the next day. However, on Sunday it runs the whole day. This is the spirit of Tigo. We offer our clients something interesting definitely aligned with our triple ‘A’ strategy of offering Affordable, Accessible and Available products and services,” she added.

MTN Rwanda is the largest telecoms player in terms of market share and subscriptions, followed by Tigo. The three operators had a combined mobile subscription base of more than 3.2 million by end of June according to RURA.

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