Vodafone looks to African business market for future growth

Vodafone is establishing two new regional hubs in Africa to improve customer support to multinational clients, as revenue from its enterprise customers on the continent exceeded €1 billion in the financial year to March 2013.

The operator said Vodafone Global Enterprise will open the hubs in Nairobi and Accra to help its more than 600 VGE multinational customers with operations in Africa. VGE supports a total of 1,700 multinational companies across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas.

The new hubs will complement the existing enterprise customer service operations of Vodafone Egypt in Cairo and Vodacom in Johannesburg. Meanwhile Vodacom, which is 65 per cent owned by Vodafone, has also said it plans to extend its business operations to small and medium-sized companies to help prop up falling voice revenue from its consumer business.

"We historically focused on corporate clients and didn't have the scale or products to tackle the huge and rapidly growing small-to-medium enterprise segment," said chief officer of Vodacom Business Vuyani Jarana, according to Bloomberg. The company will now "piggy-back" off its consumer business infrastructure to expand services for smaller companies, Bloomberg added.

Africa is of increasing importance for Vodafone as it looks for new growth markets outside of Europe. In April, Bloomberg noted that profit from its stake in Vodacom surpassed that from the UK unit in 2010 and outpaced the Spanish division the following year.

Business customers are a key target in the region: Vodafone said companies are looking to expand on the continent to take advantage of Africa's expected growth, but are hampered by the requirement to set up operations in different countries, each with their own infrastructure and communications challenges

"There is growing interest in our ability to offer a single management contract governing multiple territories, taking away much of the worry for large corporate customers looking to manage their communications in a fast-growing but demanding environment," said Vodafone Global Enterprise President of Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, Stevan Hoyle.

Orange also recently took steps to increase its consumer sales in South Africa through a deal with Nashua Mobile. Its Orange Horizons unit has been set up specifically to seek new growth opportunities in emerging markets.

For more:
- see this Vodafone release
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this separate Bloomberg article

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