Namibia's mobile phone Market Could Boom

The mobile phone market could potentially grow by N$15 million (US$2 million) a month if the costs of phones, Sim cards and usage were reduced, an economic expert said yesterday. Dr Rigmar Osterkamp, principal researcher at the Namibia Economic Policy Research Unit (Nepru) said the institution conducted a study headed by Dr Christoph Stork recently, which revealed that only 37 per cent of people above the age of 16 in rural areas had a mobile phone, but 43.8 per cent said they would like to buy one if handsets and Sim cards were cheaper. "This represents approximately 237,002 untapped customers in rural areas alone," Osterkamp said. "According to our survey, rural people would only be able to spend N$19.50 per month (US$2.60) on phone costs and only N$187 (US$25) for a handset. We estimate that the mobile telecommunication sector in Namibia could grow by N$15 million per month if purchasing coasts for customers would be lowered." The Nepru researcher added that the best strategy for all three cellular licence holders in Namibia would be to purchase handsets in bulk and to co-operate with each other to achieve a better bargaining power. "In South Africa, a Sim card costs less than one Namibia dollar at large supermarkets," Osterkamp said. The complete study will be made public next month.