Ghana’s Busy Internet offers users a dual SIM Lenovo handset for its 4G service – What’sApp is growing fast

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Ghana’s Busy Internet has been up and running for seven months and has already experienced considerable subscriber growth. It’s also shaking up the data market with new free offers and will soon go into offering more content. Russell Southwood caught up with its CEO, Praveen Sadelage this week.

Since Busy Internet launched its 4G service seven months ago, Ghana’s largest mobile operator MTN has entered the fray and is offering 4G coverage in all of its main markets.

However Sadelage says that Busy Internet has not experienced much of an impact from MTN’s presence because they seem to be focused on migrating 3G users to 4G handsets. The other player Surfline Ghana has reacted by enhancing its customer presence and cutting prices.

Busy Internet’s innovative marketing strategy has remained in place. With the Power of 4, customers are able to choose free offers from 4 different baskets of offers:”You choose one of each depending on the package you’ve got. Customers like the choice this promotion gives them.” So for example, you could choose to have You Tube as a free service.

The pattern of customer use has gone from basic Internet and social media use to a great deal more use of You Tube, Facebook and Twitter. The fastest growing use – particularly among youth – has been WhatsApp:”It’s fast becoming a primary means of communications for younger users. There’s also been a lot of uptake of education content. Lots of customers are students and they have been accessing education video content.”

Busy Internet is planning to bring in a lot more content for its users:”We’re bringing in good content for our users. We’ve teamed up with iROKO for African content and we’ll soon have others like DStv on board. We’ll be getting educational content from US universities. But it all takes time to firm up the commercials.”

Busy Internet launched with a coverage area that spanned 85-90 kms across the capital Accra. Since launch, the main activity has been in-filling and adding base stations as customer numbers have grown:”It’s an on-going exercise. The increased customer base means we have to augment coverage with more base stations. We now have 25% more stations than when we launched the service.”

It is currently doing ground assessments for rolling out in two more markets across Ghana some time in the next 12 months.

In a market that is dominated by mobile data providers, Busy Internet has innovated by offering a Lenovo dual SIM handset for US$80 (plus 5GB data and the Power of Four freebies). This means that users can stay with their existing number and existing voice carrier but take advantage of a 4G data service. With only one mobile operator offering 4G, this means they have identified an interesting competitive space. Plus younger users will not be slow to switch out to WhatsApp with their friends.

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