Nokia Networks executive says company remains confident of Africa sales growth

Nokia Networks' southern Africa head Deon Geyser said operators in the continent are on the cusp of increasing their investment in network infrastructure, as consolidation offsets broader economic slowdowns.

Geyser said the continent remains one of the few global areas in which Nokia Networks is seeing growth, despite noting that government and operator spending has recently been affected by currency devaluations and sluggish economic growth, Reuters reported.

In an interview during the AfricaCom conference in Cape Town, Nokia Networks' southern Africa head told the news agency that operator consolidation is fuelling investment in network equipment as the merged entities seek to take full advantage of the additional spectrum they acquire. The infrastructure vendor is confident that the market will remain a strong revenue generator, Geyser told Reuters.

Nokia Networks' confidence is based on trends including growing voice revenues and increasing consumer demand for mobile data services, Geyser explained.

Geyser's bullishness on Africa appears to stem from a sequential 1 per cent rise in net sales at its Middle East and Africa (MEA) division during the third quarter. In its earnings statement, Nokia explained that the bulk of the quarter-on-quarter increase was due to higher net sales of mobile broadband equipment, which was mostly driven by operators in Africa.

However, the company also noted that a 6 per cent year-on-year rise in MEA sales during the third quarter was "primarily due to growth in several countries in the Middle East," and that sales in the region were dominated by global services rather than pure equipment sales.

While the Middle East dominated annual growth comparisons, recent figures from the GSMA suggest Geyser and Nokia are right to be confident about Africa's potential.

The association in October forecast that unique mobile subscription numbers in sub-Saharan Africa alone would hit 386 million by the end of 2015. If accurate, the figure would mean that sub-Saharan Africa mobile user numbers have grown at a CAGR of 13 per cent between 2010 and 2015, which is more than double the global average growth rate of 6 per cent during the period.

Meanwhile, Nokia last week announced that Amr Karim El-Leithy will head up its MEA unit after it completes a merger with Alcatel-Lucent. El-Leithy is currently Alcatel-Lucent's president for Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

For more:
- see this Reuters report
- view Nokia's third quarter earnings statement (PDF)

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