AFRICA – Mobile phones have gone from being a luxury to almost a necessity nowadays, with smartphones functioning like miniature computers. Thus, with the greater adoption of mobile phones among people globally, technology has also needed to keep up and evolve, especially with some of the infrastructure challenges seen in developing countries.
It is therefore no surprise to see that phone manufacturers are teaming up with telecom providers in Africa, in order to provide better telecommunication services and bridge the existing gap in the market. This has become even more important in the current scenario, where the internet has become akin to an essential commodity for people to be able to stay indoors safely and still carry on doing their work or running their businesses.
At the same time, online forms of entertainment have also become popular, with more and more people staying indoors due to the ongoing pandemic. Streaming websites and online casino websites have been seeing record levels of engagement ever since the pandemic hit, with many users accessing these sites through their phones. Thus, it is important that mobile connectivity is top-notch, with most of the world operating on 4G technology at the moment, and 5G technology imminent.
It is therefore interesting to see the strategy used by companies in Africa, to bundle telecom providers together with the phone itself at the time of purchase. For example, people buying the Techno Camon 15 phone are also given a SIM card by MTN with 3 GB of data for three months, at no extra charge. Elsewhere, the Infinix-Airtel partnership is valid of five phones – the Note 7, HOT9 Play, HOT9, S5 Pro and Note7 Lite, and they all come with 5 GB of complimentary data for a month. This is beneficial for the phone companies themselves, as a spokesperson for Techno Mobile Uganda pointed out, since users would need high-speed internet to get the best experience from their phone, and the company found that MTN would be the best partner for them.
This deal allows customers to be able to use the phone ‘properly’ and will also lead to them becoming customers of MTN if the internet experience is top-notch as well, a win-win for both companies. Another intention of these partnerships, according to Airtel, is to increase the penetration of 4G in Uganda, which will improve digital literacy and inclusion in the country.
This is important, as surveys have shown that digital technology has not been spread evenly across the country, leading to some regions and groups being marginalized and cut off from the growing internet ecosystem that is so vital to growth today.
At the same time, these deals also help consumers. It allows them to save money while getting the opportunity to own a smartphone along with high-speed internet. The telecom companies benefit since they are able to get more and more people to use data services on their phones, which will ultimately drive revenue for them.
The phone manufacturers are putting good quality smartphones into the hands of people who may not have bought them otherwise, while the large retail and distribution networks of both telecom companies and phone manufacturers mean that many people will be able to take advantage of such schemes. Ultimately, if the consumer has a good experience, he/she will subscribe for data plans once the free period expires, providing revenue for the telecom company, while bundling the SIM with the phone at the point of sale means that consumers cannot switch their telecom providers, thus providing a vast base of customers for the companies to work with.