Vodafone wades into Uganda as Orange bows out

Vodafone signed a framework agreement with Afrimax Group to explore further opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Uganda set to be the first target market under the new arrangement.

The UK-based operator said it has formed a partner market agreement with Afrimax for Uganda that will enable it to start selling voice and data services under the Vodafone Uganda brand.

Netherlands-based Afrimax launched in 2010 and has built up a portfolio of TD-LTE spectrum in a number of countries across Sub-Sahara African. It is now starting commercial operations in its licensed markets, and will utilise the Vodafone brand to market its LTE services.

Vodafone uses non-equity partner market arrangements to target markets where it does not have a presence.

"We are delighted to welcome Afrimax to our successful Partner Markets community, which already operates in more than fifty countries. We look forward to exploring the potential for further Partner Market agreements in sub-Saharan Africa with Afrimax, under our framework cooperation agreement," said Vodafone Partner Markets CEO Stefano Gastaut.

Vodafone added that the framework agreement will complement Vodacom Group's operations in South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho and Mozambique.

Vodafone and Afrimax join a growing number of operators that are beginning to target LTE opportunities in Africa. Orange confirmed that it is rolling out LTE in some of its 20 markets in Africa and the Middle East including Senegal, DRC, Ivory Coast, Botswana, and 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.

Vodafone's move comes a week after Orange completed the sale of Orange Uganda to Africell. Speaking to FierceWireless:Europe at AfricaCom in Cape Town last week, Marc Rennard, EVP for Africa, the Middle East and Asia at Orange, confirmed that the deal was finalised on Tuesday Nov. 11. Orange's strategy is to focus on markets where it can be the number one or number two player, and highlighted Uganda and Kenya as two potential exit opportunities. No decision has been made as yet about the future of Orange Kenya

A recent report from the GSMA forecasts 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.

For more:
- see this Vodafone release

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GSMA: Mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will pass 0.5B in 2020
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