Smart Telecom enters crowded Tanzanian mobile market

14 Apr 2014

Smart Telecom, which is owned by Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), the Kenyan-based infrastructure and industrial development arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), has announced the launch of a mobile network operating subsidiary in Tanzania. The launch coincides with the introduction of a sister company, also called Smart Telecom, in neighbouring Uganda, which was revealed last month. AKFED is also launching the new Smart Telecom brand in Burundi, and has earmarked investment of USD300 million across the three East African markets, offering mobile voice and internet services, with the stated aim to bring ‘improved service, value and coverage’ to all three countries. TeleGeography notes that AKFED’s telecoms investment partner, the Cypriot-based, Russian-owned Timeturns Holdings, is the backer of existing Tanzanian CDMA operator Benson Informatics (BOL), holding a full national mobile licence, while the Ugandan branch of Smart Telecom acquired its licences via start-up Sure Telecom (Uganda), which was previously solely owned by Timeturns. Similarly, the launch of Smart Telecom (Burundi) has been achieved via the AKFED/Timeturns partnership, with a relaunch of Timeturn’s existing mobile subsidiary Lacell (Smart Mobile).

Smart Tanzania has marketed its introductory services with a banner saying ‘pay TZS79 (USD0.0484) for every on-net call’. Its standard call rates are advertised on its website as ‘on-net TZS2.8 per second / off-net TZS4.1 per second’, while it offers choices of daily, weekly and monthly service bundles including voice, SMS and data – including a month’s unlimited mobile internet usage for TZS20,000 (USD12.24). The website also promises mobile money services will be made available on the Smart Tanzania network.

The Tanzanian wireless market is already home to five full fledged cellular mobile operators: Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo, Zantel and Tanzania Telecommunication Company Ltd (TTCL), while TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Smile Communications operates 4G TD-LTE wireless broadband services in the country, alongside CDMA fixed-wireless voice/data network operators BOL (see above) and Sasatel, and there are four other licensees – MyCell, EGOTEL, 4G Mobile and Telesis – holding technology-neutral network operating concessions via which they intend to provide wireless data-focused services (based on CDMA, W-CDMA, mobile WiMAX and LTE, respectively). Another mobile licensee, Rural Netco, has deployed UMTS-900 infrastructure for wholesale-only services, GlobalComms adds.

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