By Bekezela Phakathi, Business Day Live. Photo: Thinkstock
CHINESE telecommunications equipment and systems company ZTE says it is aiming to double its market share in Africa to 20% within the next few years as it seeks to dominate the telecommunications industry.
The company is banking on its cheap smartphone range and its partnerships with mobile giants such as MTN to grow its footprint on the continent, particularly in SA. ZTE, which was founded in 1985, claims to have the widest product range in the world, covering every sector of the wire-line, wireless, services and terminals markets.
While ZTE is still a relatively unknown name outside China, it is already the fourth-biggest smartphone brand in the US behind Samsung, Apple and LG.
In an interview on the sidelines of the AfricaCom event in Cape Town on Wednesday, ZTE senior vice-president Huang Dabin said the company is looking to replicate its successes in the US in Africa.
"Africa now emerges as the last opportunity telecom market, with the fastest subscriber growth. The huge population base, diversified and dynamic economies would guarantee the long-term prosperity of the African telecom market," Mr Dabin said, adding that the AfricaCom event was a key marketing platform for the company. The event showcases products and gathers together senior decision makers from the telecommunications industry from around world.
Mr Dabin said in the next five years, about 270-million new subscribers are expected to enter the market and this would build a sustainable and solid voice and data service revenue base. "The key success factor of winning the Africa telecoms market is the business model innovation based on the in-depth market perspectives and the close co-operation with local partners," Mr Dabin said.
He added that the company will be guided by three new core values of "cool," "green" and "open," as it endeavours to focus on innovations that are compelling to users, as well as being environmentally responsible, creative and collaborative.
"As a member of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) South Africa definitely is one of the most important markets for ZTE; ZTE entered the country in 2005, and after 10 years of development (the firm) has now grown to be a strategic partner with some mainstream operators in South Africa like Cell C and MTN," Mr Dabin said.
Earlier this year ZTE partnered with the MTN Group to launch an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, providing a dedicated network to connect devices and systems, as well as a global M2M SIM card in Africa.
The platform, which is already live in South Africa, claims to adopt "cutting-edge technologies suited to developing markets, bringing flexible connectivity for devices in the region", while the SIM card provides customers with a blanket rate for M2M activity across MTN’s African network.
MTN said recently that it believes IoT and M2M technology will drive business growth in the Middle East and Africa in sectors such as banking, transportation and energy.