" ITREALMS: CelTel builds Pan African network

Monday, August 28, 2006

CelTel builds Pan African network

Remmy Nweke, just back from Tanzania

Recently emerged share owners of Vmobile Nigeria, CelTel International of the Netherlands, has said its aim is to build a Pan African network.

It could be recalled that Celtel which commenced operations eight years ago, recently bought 6.5 majority shares in the Vee Network Limited, trading under the name of Vmobile. It has grown into 15 African countries with over 15 million customers and he group MTC has over 22 million customers.

Disclosing this to a cross session of Nigerian media delegation who visited CelTel operations in Tanzania, the group chief executive, Mr. Marten Pieters, said that presently, the network has advanced plans to achieve this feat region by region until it eventually gets to its dream, which is a Pan-African telecom operator.

The telco, he said, has remained successful so far, stressing that this, Pan African dream will avail subscribers on the network to have one Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) number which would afford them to call within the network at the regional level without the stress attached to roaming, and exclusion of some packages while on roaming in some networks.

In other words, roaming on CelTel would be localized.

To this end, he said that in the East Africa, for instance, CelTel would soon introduce this across Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

Mr. Pieters also said that CelTel would replicate this in all the regions on the continent, even as this methodology would soon see the light of the day in West Africa, with Nigeria as its hub.

“Its not a technology issue these days. But we have differences in government, Value Added Tax (VAT,” he declared.

“We’re about to introduce it here in East Africa. Technology wise, we can do it today,” he said.

CelTel is working on East African operations to enable it do something differently and something unique, he told newsmen.

Lamenting, however, that the regulatory environment is complicated, yet they are not deterred to invest in Nigeria because it has lots of potentials.

Equally, Mr. Pieters pointed out that CelTel would not stop its expansion drive on the continent as it will continue to look into new opportunities.

“Buy licenses and extend our footprint further,” he said.

Even as he predicted that in the next five years, GSM market subscriber base would grow upto 150 million, out of which 50 million is expected to come from Nigeria.

Therefore, he said, the company has quite some potential, also still in he future because “our shareholders in Kuwait have access to a lot of money …. There is a lot of money here and they are very supportive of our further growth in Africa, which has been expanded since we have been able to get this position in Nigeria,” he said.

Also speaking, the Managing Director, CelTel Tanzania, Mr. Steve Torode, who was accompanied by the Sales Director, Mr. Herbert Louis, said, the Pan African dream of the company, otherwise known as ‘one network’ would enable subscribers to roam freely within the East African region.

“Above all, contribute to the economies of affected countries,” he asserted.

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