MTN Business Solutions Namibia and local company Demshi Investment Holdings will enter the Namibian market from June 2018. Picture: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
MTN Business Solutions Namibia and local company Demshi Investment Holdings will enter the Namibian market from June 2018. Picture: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
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MTN plans to enter Namibia’s mobile-operator market through a tie-up with a state telecommunications firm, according to a report by Fitch’s BMI Research.

MTN Business Solutions Namibia, which is 30% owned by local shareholders, and local company Demshi Investment Holdings, will enter the market from June 2018 as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), BMI Research said.

Both operators were in negotiations to use state-owned TN Mobile’s 3G and LTE network. TN has a market share of just 4.5%, while MTC, another state-owned operator, has a share of 95.5%.

Since the only two mobile network operators in Namibia were state-owned, "the entrance of MVNOs is a welcome development to provide some much-needed competition", BMI said.

However, the high penetration rate in Namibia’s mobile market meant there was limited room for organic subscription growth, and TN Mobile’s relatively low market share "will make it difficult for MVNOs to gain market share, as they will have to lure customers away from MTC".

The new entrants, and TN Mobile, will also be hindered by the lack of mobile number portability in Namibia. As such, MVNOs were likely to prioritise innovation, "differentiated services" and customer service to win share, according to BMI.

"Any details on plans to launch MVNOs in other markets will be made public at the appropriate time," MTN said.

While MTN has said in the past it would let MVNOs use its network in SA, it has not yet done so.

Cell C is the only local operator that has MVNO partners.

Meanwhile, MTN CEO Rob Shuter said recently that the group would consider entering new markets, including Angola and Ethiopia.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za