Top telecom groups in the MEA

Telcos are embracing digital transformation to compete on the global scale as DSPs
Christian De Faria, executive chairman, Airtel Africa
Christian De Faria, executive chairman, Airtel Africa
Ihab Hinnawi, group CEO, Batelco group
Ihab Hinnawi, group CEO, Batelco group
Strive Masiyiwa, chairman and founder, Econet
Strive Masiyiwa, chairman and founder, Econet
Eng. Saleh Al Abdooli, CEO, Etisalat group
Eng. Saleh Al Abdooli, CEO, Etisalat group
Dr. Mike Adenuga, chairman, CEO, Globacom
Dr. Mike Adenuga, chairman, CEO, Globacom
Mauricio Ramos, CEO, Millicom
Mauricio Ramos, CEO, Millicom
Phuthuma Nhleko, executive chairman, MTN Group
Phuthuma Nhleko, executive chairman, MTN Group
Vincenzo Nesci, CEO, Global Telecom
Vincenzo Nesci, CEO, Global Telecom
Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani, group CEO, Ooredoo
Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani, group CEO, Ooredoo
Bruno Mettling, deputy group CEO and CEO Orange Middle East and Africa
Bruno Mettling, deputy group CEO and CEO Orange Middle East and Africa
Irene Charnley, founder and CEO, Smile
Irene Charnley, founder and CEO, Smile
Dr. Khaled Hussain Biyari, group CEO, STC group
Dr. Khaled Hussain Biyari, group CEO, STC group
Mikkel Vinter, founder & CEO, Virgin Mobile MEA
Mikkel Vinter, founder & CEO, Virgin Mobile MEA
Mohamed Shameel Aziz Joosub, CEO and executive director,  Vodacom Group
Mohamed Shameel Aziz Joosub, CEO and executive director, Vodacom Group
Scott Gegenheimer, group CEO, Zain group
Scott Gegenheimer, group CEO, Zain group



HQ: Kenya

Coverage: 16 countries across Africa, namely Nigeria, Chad, Congo B, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda

Airtel is driven by the vision of providing affordable and innovative mobile services to all. In constant currency (1st Mar’16) terms, Africa revenues adjusted for the impact of divested operating unit and tower assets grew by 3.8% YoY (2.0% reported YoY).

Data revenues at $ 154 million grew by 31.2% YoY, led by increase in data customer base by 26.0% and traffic by 106.2%. Data ARPU increased to $ 3.2 from $ 3.1 in the corresponding quarter last year. Data revenues contributed to 16.5% of overall Africa revenues vis-à-vis 12.9% in the corresponding quarter last year. Africa underlying EBITDA margin was up YoY by 3.6% to 22.5%. Active Airtel Money customer base stood at 8.6 million, boosting the total transaction value on Airtel Money platform by 62.0% to $ 5.1 billion.

Revenues: $ 935 million (June 2016)


HQ: Bahrain

Coverage: 14 markets [Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Maldives, Diego Garcia, St. Helena, Ascension Islands, and Falklands]

Batelco has played a pivotal role in Bahrain's development as a major communications hub and today is a leading digital communications solutions provider, continuing to lead and shape the local consumer market and the enterprise ICT market. The group’s gross revenues were down by 2% YoY to BD182.9 million ($485.1million) mainly due to competitive pressures in key markets. However, revenues remained steady in the second quarter of 2016 compared to Q2 2015. The group’s balance sheet remained strong; as of 30 June 2016 net assets were BD560.0million ($1,485.4million) with substantial cash balances of BD163.7million ($434.2million).

Batelco recently signed a partnership agreement with Microsoft to improve and elevate productivity for SMEs through the launch of key solutions. Batelco has also upgraded its existing Information Security Certification from ISO 27001:2005 to ISO 27001:2013 following an in-depth transition audit.

Revenues: BD 182.9 million ($485.1 million) (June 2016)


HQ: South Africa

Coverage: offices in 17 countries

Econet is a privately held diversified telecommunications group with operations and investments in Africa, Europe, South America, North America and the East Asia Pacific Rim, offering products and services in the core areas of mobile and fixed telephony services, broadband, internet, satellite and fibre optic networks.

The company also has investments beyond the traditional telecoms sector, which include financial services, insurance, e-commerce, renewable energy, education, Coca-Cola bottling, hospitality and payment gateway solutions.

Econet subsidiaries include Econet Wireless International, Econet Wireless Africa, Econet Wireless Global, Econet Enterprises and the Liquid Telecom Group.

Its focus is on the positive transformation of its customers’ lives and the communities in which it operates.



Coverage: 17 countries across the Asia and MEA

Etisalat group is one of the world’s leading telecom groups in emerging markets. Etisalat’s current market cap is over AED 132 billion ($36 billion). With reported net revenues of AED 51.7 billion and net profit of AED 8.3 billion for 2015, Etisalat ranks amongst the most profitable telecom groups in the world.

In Q2 2016 consolidated revenues increased YoY by 2% attributed to UAE and MT Group operations. Growth in the UAE was attributed to higher fixed and mobile broadband. Revenues from international consolidated operations decreased by 1%, resulting in 41% contribution to group revenues, 1 point lower than Q2 2015 attributed to currency devaluation.

Revenues: AED 26.2 billion($7.1 billion) (June 2016)


HQ: Nigeria

Coverage: Nigeria, Republic of Benin and Ghana

Telecom industry statistics published on the website of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that a total of 7,477,977 new lines were activated between June 2015 - June 2016, with Globacom recording 5,063,895 new subscribers, representing 68% of the total new customers.

Details of the NCC report showed that, with the feat achieved by Globacom, the company grew its market share from 21% to 24% with 36.3million subscribers at the end of June, 2016.

In June 2016 for instance, while the industry gained a total of 318, 008 new internet subscribers, Globacom alone had 272,674 of the new customers. In essence, Globacom accounted for about 86% of the total internet subscriber acquisitions in the industry in the month of June.


HQ: Luxembourg

Coverage: 16 countries [Bolivia, Chad, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Luxembourg, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, UK, USA]

As part of Investment AB Kinnevik (“Kinnevik”), a leading Swedish entrepreneurial investment group with investments across mobile telecommunications, e-commerce, entertainment and financial services, Millicom originated as one of the earliest pioneers in commercial mobile telephony 25 years ago. The difficult external environment in several markets left it with Q2 revenues weaker than expected.

For Millicom, the important long-term story is about how it is reconfiguring the business towards the growth segments of data and cable. An increasing proportion of revenue is now coming from these segments as SMS and voice revenues are replaced by mobile data revenues. It continues to strengthen its customer proposition to drive demand and loyalty. It’s also building the foundations of its B2B business. During the last quarter, Tigo Business completed the construction of its first data centre in Paraguay, as well as further facilities in Chad and Senegal.

Revenues: $1.57 billion (Q2, 2016)


HQ: South Africa

Coverage: 21 countries across the MEA

As of 30 June 2016, MTN recorded 232.6 million subscribers. On 10 June MTN settled Nigerian regulatory fine with Federal Government of Nigeria. MTN will pay NGN 330 billion ($1.67 billion) over three years in full and final settlement, in addition to complying with certain other regulatory conditions.

Group subscribers decreased by 1.4% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) impacted by the disconnections of subscribers in Nigeria related to the substantial subscriber registration process and compliance exercise. Despite challenges MTN declared an interim dividend of 250 cents for the six months ending June 2016.

Data services remain the key driver of revenue growth, and it will continue to invest in expanding 3G and LTE networks and stimulating the adoption of data-enabled devices. MTN remains a trusted brand among consumers; it knows who its customers are and has well-developed distribution networks in place to reach them, which is key in the contested digital marketplace. Improving customer analytics is a key priority and forms part of strategic review of the group. It will continue its focus on MTN Business Cloud now providing independent software vendor solutions, along with expansion of MTN Global, multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) bringing the footprint to 27 POPs.

Revenues: R 78.9 billion (US$ 5.8 billion) (H1 2016) (+14% YoY)


HQ: Netherlands

Coverage: Algeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe

Global Telecom Holding began as Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH), a member of the Orascom group. In 1997, Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) was established as a separate entity. The new organisation quickly proved itself as an IT and telecom leader by becoming Egypt's only company to hold licences in all three privatised sectors: wireless, fixed-line payphones and VSAT.

Throughout the following decade, OTH grew and expanded its portfolio of investments to include telecommunication services in promising markets throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East. In 2012, OTH merged with Vimplecom , creating Global Telecom Holding and the world's sixth-largest mobile telecommunications provider by number of subscribers with more than 86 million customers.

Service revenue in Q2, 2016 organically decreased 1.8% YoY due to weak revenue in Algeria. However, mobile data revenue witnessed an organic growth of 56% YoY.

Revenues: $669 million (service revenues) (-1.8% YoY) (Q2, 2016)


HQ: Qatar

Coverage: 12 countries across the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia

The company's highlights in recent years include the introduction of the 4G+ and nationwide fibre networks in Qatar; the introduction of 4G services in Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Indonesia and Tunisia that made Ooredoo one of the region’s leading 4G companies; the operational launch in Myanmar that brought mobile broadband to millions of people for the first time; and surpassing the 100 million customer milestone in 2015.

In H1, 2016, customer base increased by 14% to 130 million. Group net profit to Ooredoo shareholders increased by 46% to QAR 1.5 billion. Data revenue increased to 39% of group revenue (H1 2015: 34%). Revenue from data contributed QAR 6.2 billion in H1 2016. 4G networks are now available in eight of Ooredoo’s 10 markets. Ooredoo’s #BusinessInstincts campaign has been designed to promote growth of Qatar’s SMEs.

Revenues: QAR 15.9 billion ($4.4 billion) (-1%YoY) (H1, 2016)


HQ: France

Coverage: 20 countries

In Africa, Orange it leverages its growth drivers with data monetisation, via content such as Orange Money and B2B. It has four essential strengths: high quality network, the mobile devices at the heart of everyday life, and above all, 20,000 employees, and a distribution network with over 700,000 Orange resellers.

In the first half of 2016, in Africa and Middle-East, mobile data services and Orange Money continued their very dynamic trend. On a comparable basis, the enterprise sector grew by 1.2% in the first half of 2016, driven by IT & integration services. 4G technology has been accessible in 9 countries since the beginning of July 2016.

Mobile financial services and connected objects are a major point of diversification for the group and one of the five levers of its Essentials2020 strategic plan.

Earlier this year, Orange acquired a 100% interest in Cellcom Telecommunications in Liberia, Tigo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, two Bharti Airtel International group ("Airtel") subsidiaries in Burkina Faso, and Sierra Leone; and Sun Communications in Moldova.

Revenues: EUR 2.52 billion (30 June 2016)


HQ: Mauritius

Coverage: Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and soon in the DRC

Smile provides 4G LTE mobile broadband services, with data speeds of up to 21Mbps, in all its countries of operation. Its objective is to become the broadband provider of choice for SuperFast mobile broadband and SuperClear voice services in all its markets.

Smile launched Africa’s first commercial 4G LTE network in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in May 2013. Since then, Smile has extended its coverage in Tanzania to 7 regions and also launched commercially in Uganda in June 2013, with coverage expanded to 14 cities. In March 2014 Smile launched West-Africa’s first 4G LTE mobile broadband service in Nigeria with coverage now extended to 8 cities.

By the end of 2015, Smile had the biggest 4G LTE mobile broadband network in Africa and continues to expand its network coverage. In 2016 Smile launched its SuperClear voice, video and SMS services over LTE, enabling its customers to use one data bundle for SuperFast broadband and SuperClear voice services.


HQ: Saudi Arabia

Coverage: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait

Revenues from domestic operations during the 1st half of 2016 grew 5% compared to the same period last year, while revenues from the controlled international subsidiaries grew 3.1% compared to the same period last year. STC will continue to expand its fixed and mobile networks and will continue to invest in its infrastructure to introduce new technologies. STC continues with the deployment of the fibre optic networks for both business and residential customers. Enterprise business unit overall revenues increased approximately 17% during the 2nd quarter compared to the same period last year, driven by the 30% increase in business sector data services revenues compared to same period last year.

Earlier this year, STC became one of the first telecommunications operators globally to design and develop a new digital mobile experience leveraging online and social media by launching “Jawwy from STC”. Jawwy will feature its own SIM, app and digital channels for sales and customer care. A key differentiator of the service, the Jawwy app, will allow users to build, share and manage their plans in real time, instead of buying fixed plans. STC had also been the first to launch VoLTE in the region in collaboration with Apple.

Revenues: SR 26.335 billion ($7.02 billion) (H1)



Coverage: five countries [South Africa, Oman, Jordan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia]

Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa was first formed in 2006 and is headquartered in Dubai Internet City, UAE. It targets launching into ten new markets over the next five years.

VMMEA delivers mobile telecom services to consumers across the region through two brands: Virgin Mobile and FRiENDi mobile. It also provides outsourced services to mobile network operators by operating focused brands and mobile packages on their behalf.

VMMEA announced in April 2016 that 2.5 million customers now use its mobile telecom services, bolstering its position as the fastest growing MVNO in the region. In 2015, less than one year after it became the first fully licensed MVNO in Saudi Arabia, VMMEA had achieved 1 million subscribers in the kingdom, with 280,000 people signing on through the digital Number Booking Service, an initiative that allowed new customers to choose their new phone number online.


HQ: South Africa

Coverage: five countries [South Africa, DRC, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania]

Vodacom is a leading African mobile communication company providing a wide range of communication services including mobile voice, messaging, data and converged services to over 61 million customers. From its roots in South Africa, it has grown its mobile network business to include operations in Tanzania, DRC, Mozambique and Lesotho. The mobile networks cover a total population of approximately 200 million people.

Through Vodacom Business Africa (VBA), it also offers business managed services to enterprises in over 40 countries across the continent. Vodacom is majority owned by Vodafone (65% holding) one of the world’s largest mobile communications companies by revenue.

One of the major highlights the quarter ending June 2016 was a huge number of customer additions in South Africa in both postpaid and prepaid, where Vodacom added almost one million customers. This can largely be attributed to the significant investments in infrastructure, good customer service and value through innovation such as personalised Just 4 You offers. However, international operations were impacted by new customer registration processes which was offset by currency gains. M-Pesa revenue grew 47.5% to R500 million.

Revenues: R 19.9 billion (US $1.46 billion) (June 2016)


HQ: Kuwait

Coverage: eight countries [Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, KSA, Sudan, South Sudan;Lebanon]

Zain Group ended the first half of 2016 serving 45.2 million customers. Consolidated Group data revenues (excluding SMS and VAS) witnessed a 7% growth YoY, with data now constituting 22% of the Group’s total revenues.

Zain Sudan became the sixth Zain operation to introduce high-speed 4G LTE . The severe impact of ongoing civil instability in Iraq as well as the sales tax instituted in the country had a negative effect on the group’s overall financial results. For its home operation in Kuwait, Zain is focussed on dealing with the intense price competition. Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan are witnessing healthy growth with respect to numerous key financial indicators.

Zain is actively seeking and securing sources of incremental revenue in the digital space including enterprise M2M services and smart city solutions. Recently, the group’s fully owned global services subsidiary, Mada Communications, was selected as a preferred partner for Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute Program. This permits Zain to deliver Microsoft software and cloud experiences to enterprises across its IP/MPLS network.

Revenues: KD 552 million ($1.83 billion)

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