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Airtel targets Africa’s ‘unphoned’ market

By , Editor, ITWeb Africa
Congo (DRC) , 09 Jun 2014

Airtel targets Africa’s ‘unphoned’ market

Mobile network Airtel plans targeting Africans who cannot afford handsets.

The telecoms firm has inked a group-wide agreement with virtual SIM provider Movirtu, which provides telecom services to ‘unphoned’ users.

Using a virtual SIM card, these users can temporarily activate Airtel services on a “friend’s handset or shared village phone to make voice calls, send text messages or access value added and informative services such as mobile banking and mFarmer,” says Movirtu in a statement.

First deployments of the virtual SIMs are planned for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after Airtel’s “successful launch of the Movirtu Share service in Madagascar.”

Airtel has a total 17 subsidiaries across Africa with a total of 81.5m subscribers. Meanwhile, Africa, which has a population of 1 billion, is forecast by the GSMA to have 346 million unique subscribers by the year 2017: a figure that highlights the size of Africa’s ‘unphoned’ market.

“Having proven the business case, we now plan to roll out Movirtu Share throughout our subsidiaries in Africa,” said Willie Ellis, director of products and innovation at Airtel Group.

“And because Movirtu’s underlying Virtual SIM technology makes it easy for us to dynamically attach/detach numbers to different handsets, we have the option of launching additional services in the future,” said Ellis in a statement.

Carsten Brinkschulte, chief executive officer at Movirtu, added in a statement: “The framework agreement with Airtel Africa will help some of the approximately one billion people across the globe who are still without a mobile phone to gain access to the mobile network. It’s clear that there is a significant market opportunity to convert many of these people into mobile subscribers for the first time, with their own phone number and prepaid account.”

Airtel also plans to target business users with the product in Africa, according to the press statement.

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