Vodafone and Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTCL) have entered into a new partner market agreement for Botswana, although the deal is not part of a framework agreement signed between Vodafone and Afrimax Group in November 2014.
Under the non-equity partnership agreement, BTCL becomes Vodafone's preferred partner in Botswana and the two companies will jointly offer business and consumer customers a range of products and services.
Vodafone Partner Markets CEO Stefano Gastaut said: "This strategic partnership with BTCL for Botswana will enable us to expand the reach of our products and services within Africa and extends our footprint to 55 markets worldwide. It will also deliver enhanced roaming benefits for BTCL's consumer and multinational corporate customers."
Vodafone uses non-equity partner market arrangements to target markets where it does not have a presence. In November, the UK-based group signed a framework agreement with Afrimax Group to explore further opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa, and has so far launched LTE (or 4G) services in limited areas of Uganda under this arrangement.
However, it appears that Afrimax did not hold a licence for Botswana--where Orange has also just launched 4G services--when it signed the framework agreement with Vodafone. Afrimax was unable to disclose details of where it holds licences, citing commercial sensitivity. The Netherland-based company reportedly holds TD-LTE spectrum licences for 14 countries and is said to be exploring the acquisition of licences in an additional seven countries.
Under the terms of the framework agreement with Vodafone Group, Afrimax plans to utilise the Vodafone brand to market its LTE services across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Vodafone and Afrimax also join a growing number of operators that are beginning to target LTE opportunities in Africa. As well as Botswana, Orange has also launched 4G in Mauritius.
Meanwhile Surfline Communications was launched as a data-only LTE provider in Ghana, while Smile sells LTE data services in Tanzania, Uganda, and Nigeria and plans to launch services soon in DRC.
The GSMA has previously forecast that the number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will pass the half billion mark in 2020 as mobile services become increasingly affordable and accessible to millions of currently unconnected citizens across the region.
- see this Vodafone release
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