How To Start A Business In Africa’s Growing Telecom Industry

There are several opportunities to service Africa’s growing telecoms industry

With millions of people to serve and lots of ground to cover, telecom companies are rolling out communications masts/towers and base stations across Africa. As more people go mobile in Africa, there is also a huge investment in telecom infrastructure and networks to support this fast-growing industry.

Both big and small operators on the continent, like MTN, Safaricom, Airtel, Econet and Glo, invest millions of dollars every year to build new infrastructure and support (service, maintain and repair) existing ones.

This huge investment in telecom infrastructure is providing several opportunities for local businesses in Africa. Most of the parts and equipment are imported from abroad with the support of local suppliers, and small- and middle-sized construction companies are helping to erect communication towers and build bases and support stations for telecom networks.

In addition to construction and installation works, local African companies also have the opportunity to enjoy contracts that cover routine servicing, maintenance and repair of telecom infrastructure and facilities. In many areas, these telecom facilities are not connected to the electric power grid and, as a result, there is a need for a constant supply of fuel used to run diesel-powered generators around the clock.

Success Story

Robert Lamptey and Badu Boahen – Saya (Ghana)

Saya was founded in August 2011 by Ghanaian entrepreneurs Robert Lamptey and Badu Boahen, both graduates of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Accra, where the company was incubated. Saya‟s investors include the Meltwater Foundation, Forward Partners and Progress Through Business.

Saya is particularly popular in West Africa for its real-time „Street Chat‟ messaging application, and its platform includes social network integration, location-based and group chat across multiple phone platforms such as J2ME, Android and iOS. It is used by feature phone users in over 35 countries worldwide, but its biggest user base is located in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

Exactly three years later, in August 2014, New Jersey-based Kirusa, a developer of Voice SMS-based Mobile Value Added Services (MVAS) for emerging markets, has acquired Saya. The financial deal was not disclosed, but we are sure it was a healthy one!

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