Telecoms companies in Africa told to innovate or lose revenue as voice market becomes overcrowded

Telecommunications operators (telcos) on the African continent have been told to innovate and develop products that meet the needs of subscribers or suffer loss of revenue as the voice market is becoming overcrowded and unprofitable.

Speakers at the 8th West & Central Africa Com, one of the major telecommunications events in the sub-region currently going on in Dakar have warned.

Judah Levine, the CEO of HIP Consult, an independent management consulting firm said the voice market is being crowded with both global and regional players involved. He indicated that even regulators are intervening in the voice market and that including the numerous challenges facing the telecoms industry are leading to what he described as the industry ‘entering the era of commoditization.’ He therefore warned that if telcos continue to offer voice, they will suffer loses in revenue.

He said companies would have to differentiate by offering better quality services and pricing among other factors because even reliance on data won’t be profitable in the long run because that itself requires lots of investments in infrastructure. He indicated that as demand for data grows, prices would also go down.

According to Levine, even investments in fibre optics would be a waste of money if networks do not have the capacity to operate on new technology.

In his address, the MTN Vice President for West & Central Africa, Ahmad Farouk said that the population growth rate in Africa does not match the telecoms subscriber rates on the continent.

He said mobile operators are facing growing pressure to achieve greater value propositions and differentiation.

He therefore, urged telcos in Africa to transform their “way of thinking or be left behind.”

He said telcos would have to transform their operations to be able to safeguard their future revenues.

Farouk said, “operators would have to start thinking ICT.”

“They have to see what subscribers want and give it to them,” he said.

The two-day conference has brought together telecoms industry players from around the world. is a media partner to the conference.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi in Dakar, Senegal

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