The increasing maturity of most mobile markets in West Africa has intensified the competition for subscribers, compelling operators to innovate and differentiate in terms of service delivery and provide additional non-traditional telco services. The launch of digital services, such as financial services, e-commerce, and digital media, is a strategy for creating differentiation within this ultracompetitive landscape, but IDC is also keen to stress the importance of connectivity in facilitating seamless access to these innovations.
Oluwole Babatope, a research analyst for telecommunications and digital media at IDC West Africa, believes that in order to fully maximize the digital service opportunity, mobile operators must also provide improved connectivity alongside these new data-hungry offerings.
"Mobile financial services, online transactions on ecommerce sites, video on demand, video streaming, music streaming, and mobile gaming are all real-time services that require the least amount of latency possible between data packets," says Babatope. "As such, operators must strive to improve the quality of their network connectivity if they are to ensure a positive customer experience."
IDC said that telecommunications regulatory bodies also have a part to play as they need to pay the same attention to the quality of service (QoS) for mobile data as they do to the QoS for mobile voice.
"The majority of regulators across the region do not track key performance indicators (KPIs) for data services, and the few regulators that do track data KPIs do it inconsistently when compared with voice," continues Babatope. "The regular checking of QoS for data services, together with appropriate sanctions for underperforming operators, would help to ensure an overall improvement in connectivity across the region."