Africa’s largest mobile phone company, MTN Group Ltd, is planning to bring handsets with MTN’s brand costing as little as $12 in the first half of next year. MTN’s Vice President of southern and east African region, Tim Lowry, said the handsets would be manufactured in China and may be priced between $12 and $15.
However, MTN lacks infrastructure such as base stations and switches and prices in a move to expand mobile and data services on the African Continent. In Africa, average mobile penetration is assessed to be 25%.
Lowry further said, MTN distributed 100,000 handsets costing about $20 into countries it operated in, including South Africa and Zambia, in a test this year.
“They went into the system and just disappeared,” he said. “We couldn’t keep up, they were selling like hot cakes.”
MTN will target markets of Zambia, Ghana, Rwanda and South Africa with the low-priced handsets, carrying the MTN brand. The handsets are capable of handling data and voice.
It is anticipated that average mobile penetration will rise to 50% in the next three or four years.
MTN is working with mobile-phone companies to bring down prices for handsets that can handle data, voice and multimedia services to between $30 and $40, Lowry added.