A Vietnamese mobile operator has announced plans to set up operations in Kenya just weeks after it launched in Mozambique, in what is likely to renew the battle for control of the mobile market.
Viettel Group, a state-owned mobile network operator headquartered in Hanoi, Vietnam, has earmarked Kenya as its next target country as it angles for a share of the mobile business in Africa.
Its entry will upset the plans of the other four mobile operators — Safaricom, Airtel, Orange and yuMobile — who are currently engaged in a cut throat competition to grow and retain their market share.
“We are the only company which has grown from challenges and difficulties, from the lowest level, and we have reached the top level in fierce competitive markets in a short time (two-years). Those are our advantages in the developing markets. We understand and we know how to perform and what we have to do to survive,” Mr Nguyen Duy Tho, Viettel Global’s General Director said in an email interview.
He, however, did not disclose how the company plans to enter the market and the specific timelines for the venture.
Latest data from the industry regulator, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), shows that Kenya’s mobile penetration was 74.0 per cent up as at March 2012.
The CCK data shows that mobile subscriptions rose 15.8 per cent to 29.2 million as at March 31, 2012, from the 25.2 million recorded in a similar period last year.
The company, which made about Sh500 billion in revenues in 2011 in May, launched operations in Mozambique — its first mobile network in Africa — under Movitel.
It is now planning an entry into Kenya to join other networks in Asia and Latin America.
“Viettel has invested in six nations — including Cambodia and Laos in Asia, Haiti and Peru in America and Mozambique in Africa. Our total revenue in 2011 was nearly six billion dollars,” Mr Duy Tho said.
Viettel has been making major investments in data in the markets it operates in.
It is counting on this to penetrate the Kenyan market at a time when voice is losing its shine as the biggest driver of revenues for mobile companies.
“The advantages of fiber-optic cable include broadband, large speed, high stability and provision of multi services. Fiber-optic cable is the telecommunication infrastructure. Therefore, investment in a fiber-optic cable is evidence for our seriousness in investing in a country,” Mr Duy Tho said.
For instance, in just over a year since being licensed on January 10, 2011, Viettel has built 12,600km of fiber optic cable and 1,800 mobile stations in Mozambique, representing 70 per cent of Mozambique’s total fiber optic cable network and 50 per cent of the country’s mobile stations.
The operator says it is pursuing investment opportunities mainly in developing markets.
“Viettel has been the smallest investor among international telecommunications investors, but we have grown well from a developing market. We have had many business experiences in these markets and we know this type of market very well,” he said.