Vodafone: ‘We have a keen interest in Ethiopia’ Vivek Badrinath

17 January 2020


A key UK investor in the continent, Vodafone’s outgoing regional CEO for Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific talks expansion plans, 5G and the geopolitics of technology


Vodafone has 650 million customers around the world, of which 170 million in Africa, with an additional 39 million mobile financial services customers. These are shared between South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, the DRC, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Lesotho. African markets deliver in approximately 20% of Vodafone Group’s revenue.


Vodafone’s African markets range from rural areas relying more on prepaid voice 2G handsets – for example, the DRC – to more affluent urban hubs, with post-paid smartphones leaning heavily on data in South Africa and Egypt.


“In the more advanced economies, we are halfway up the curve that transitions from voice to data, so we are trying to add additional services, such as entertainment, content, music,” says Vivek Badrinath, Vodafone’s regional CEO for Africa, Middle East and Asia. “In less advanced economies we grow along two axes, transitioning to more data services, for those with smartphones, andon the other hand mobile payment services, which tends to go with the unbanked countries.”


Level playing field


Vodafone is keen to deepen digitisation, of course for the bottom line, but also as a good in itself. “It is about the ability to communicate, the ability to transfer funds, the ability to access information for farmers, for education, creating a level playing field. Expand mobile broadband penetration in Africa by 10%, [and it is] estimated to yield a 2.5% increase in GDP per capita,” Badrinath tells The Africa Report.


The company works in three of the big five telecoms markets in Africa – but it has yet to establish a foothold in Nigeria or Ethiopia, two of Africa’s most populous markets. A recent wobble from Nigeria’s fourth telecoms operator – now known as 9Mobile after the withdrawal of Etisalat – prompted much speculation on who might pounce. Read the full article on The Africa Report here.