Ghana has a population of about 25 million and is expected to have 2% growth per year to reach 27 million by 2016. Ghana has 17 million mobile subscribers and mobile data is estimated to grow 400% in 5 years. Social networking (facebook, for example) is driving smart phone demand and 3G/4G infrastructure.
There are 1 CDMA and 5 GSM service providers/operators. MTN has 53-55% of market share, Tigo 22%, Vodafone 14% , Airtel 10% , Kasapa (CDMA) 3% and Glo is the sixth operator who obtained the license from NCA (The National Communications Authority) and NCA doesn’t plan to give any new operator licenses in the near future.
Since the feature of Number of Portability is not available until later the year, many people have more than one operator’s SIM card so that they could take advantage of the various offers.
MTN operates in 21 countries in Africa and the Mideast. Its vision is to be the telecommunication leader in emerging markets. In Ghana, its challenge is to maintain market share among aggressive competitors. Currently, it uses Mobile Money, zone offering and various pricing plans to differentiate itself. There are 4.3 million customers using Mobile Money. MTN is also facing regulation differences in different countries; for example some countries register SIMs and others do not. MTN just made a joint venture deal with American Towers to manage most of their cell towers.
Tigo is facing a similar challenge of competition in the market. A sure sign of maturity in the telecom sector is the rush to outsource tower management and ownership to third parties as a means of diversifying revenue and focusing on core activities. In January 2010, Tigo Ghana) agreed to sell 750 base towers to Helios Towers Ghana (HTG), the deal was the first major sales/leaseback to be completed by a major African telecom operator and an independent tower company in Africa.
Vodafone operates in 26 countries and 90% of the business is in Europe. To move into the emerging markets, it bought 70% of Ghana Telecom for $900 million in 2007. Vodafone wants to target the valuable segment in order to differentiate itself from the MTN position of being a market innovator, the Tigo position of being the young brand, the Airtel position of being a low-cost brand and the Glo position of being the advanced 4G network. Vodafone signed a ten year deal with Eaton Towers to take over the operations and co-location management of its existing tower infrastructure. The deal is reported to be worth $45 million to Eaton Towers.
Airtel merged with Zain and built its 2G/3G infrastructure in 6 months in 2007. One of its challenges is to create an effective business model. A usage business model didn’t work for them and they just started to offer a daily package. They consider the governmental heavy taxation and electric power instability to be a challenge. Airtel is also actively looking to introduce its Tower business to Africa for which is well known in India.
Glo Mobile Ghana (Globacom), Nigeria’s second largest national telecom carrier, has formally launched its undersea cable known as Glo-1 which cost US $600 million on Nov 2nd, 2010. Its Ghana presence will be a strong competitor in the mobile industry.
The Ministry of Communication was created in 2002 in response to global development in the telecommunications industry. Its major function is to develop policies and initiatives aimed at promoting telecom growth and economic development. Number of Portability and SIM card registration are two of the projects it initiated and will make a big impact to the wireless industry.
Affordable Prepaid mobile phone makes the communication easier than ever since landline was limited. Opportunities for Ghana in the wireless industry are unlimited.