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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Vodacom rolls out DR Congo network
A Lagos trader on the phone to a customer
There are only 100,000 landlines in DRC
Vodacom has launched its Congolese service and is hoping to turn in its first operating profit by next March.


We think it will be one of the most profitable networks in Africa

Vodacom
The pan-African wireless operator has big ambitions for the Democratic Republic of Congo due to the high population and lack of landlines.

"We think it will be one of the most profitable networks in Africa," Joan Joffe, Vodacom's spokeswoman, told BBC News Online.

Vodacom has already signed up 52,000 customers and hopes to reach three million people out DR Congo's 60 million within the next 10 years.

And it is banking on an average revenue per user of $25-30 a month, three times the amount generated at its flagship South African operation.

Rebirth

The roll-out of the network in three cities has happened in record time, following the joint venture between Congolese Wireless Networks and Vodacom in the last quarter of 2001.


We view it as a springboard to develop expertise in other difficult countries

Vodacom
"Technology is helping to spur the African Renaissance and Vodacom is determined that its construction of cellular networks across the continent will play a leading part in Africa's rebirth," said Andrew Mthembu, chairman of Vodacom Congo at the launch.

Vodacom invested $94m in DR Congo, despite the civil war that continues to ravage the country.

And it hopes that its experience there will help develop its network elsewhere.

"It was a major investment for us," said Ms Joffe, "we view it as a springboard to develop expertise in other difficult countries".

Building the network

In addition to South Africa, Vodacom also has an up and running network in Tanzania, but eventually thinks that DR Congo will be more profitable due to the larger population there.

It is also hoping to be awarded a licence in Mozambique, and is considering other potential countries such as Zambia.

Vodacom is 50% owned by South Africa's Telkom while Vodafone commands a 30% stake.

While the Congolese developments are very significant for Africa and Vodacom, they are not expected to make any significant mark on Vodafone's bottom line in the short-term.

"Every increase of our footprint is a further step towards achieving our goal of global coverage," said Vodafone's Bobby Leach in London.

See also:

26 Nov 01 | Business
03 Jan 02 | Business
01 Apr 02 | Business
07 Aug 01 | Africa
28 Aug 01 | Business
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