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Southern Africa Telecommunications Report Q1 2012

The Q112 report on the telecommunications market for Southern Africa contains updates to the regions mobile, fixed-line and internet markets. Our five-year forecasts for the three sectors, which have been extended to 2016, have been updated to reflect recent regulatory and industry developments as well as subscriber growth trends during the first nine months of 2011. Our mobile forecasts are based on 9M11 data published by a number of regional operators, including Portugal Telecom, South Africas Vodacom and MTN, Frances Orange and Luxembourgs Millicom International Cellular.

In this quarters update, we revised our mobile forecast for some markets based on 9M11 market data published by some operators. Zambia, Angola and Mozambique are among markets where we downgraded our forecast following the publication of market data by the countries leading operators that show slower subscriber growth than previously anticipated. Meanwhile, we upgraded our mobile forecast for Zimbabwe in this quarters update following impressive subscriber growth in the six months to September 2011 after the completion of the mandatory SIM registration exercise in March.

Some notable developments in the regions telecoms markets in the last few months include the launch of limited services by Mozambiques third mobile operator Movicel with the launch of full commercial services expected in January 2012, the rollout of mobile money services by Econet Wireless in Zimbabwe, the completion of the Liquid Telecom-CEC fibre-optic network rollout in Zambia and the expansion of Orange Botswanas 3G network. Meanwhile, with fewer subscriber growth opportunities in increasingly saturated urban areas, the trend towards rural rollout appears to be taking off in the region with some operators announcing significant network investment plans during 2012. Some operators that have outlined their investments include mcel and Vodacom in Mozambique, Zamtel in Zambia and Telecel in Zimbabwe. We note that successful network expansion to underserved areas, as well as continued downward pressure on mobile tariffs and devices, poses an upside risk to our subscriber growth forecasts.

On the regulatory front, Zambias new president, Michael Sata, who took office in late September 2011, started implementing some pre-election campaign promises, including investigating the sale of government assets under the previous administration. In October 2011, President Sata formed a committee to investigate the sale of a majority stake in incumbent operator Zamtel to Libyas LAP Green Networks. The committee submitted a report in November that faulted the privatisation process. However, the president was yet to make a decision on the committees findings at the time of writing.

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