Vodacom, Africa’s Mobile Heavyweight
Vodacom is arguably South Africa’s leading mobile service provider but the company is so much more than that, we take a closer look.
Published: Friday, July 15th 2016
With more than 23 million customers and approximately 58% market share, Vodacom is South Africa’s largest mobile communications company, providing voice, messaging and data to over 55 million customers.
The company has expanded its services to include networks in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and Lesotho and provides business services to customers in over 40 African countries such as Nigeria, Zambia, Angola,Kenya, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, and Cameroon.
It was jointly owned by Telkom and Vodafone, the British mobile phone network.
On 6 November 2008 Vodafone announced that it had agreed to increase its stake to 65%, and Telkom sold off its remaining holding by listing it on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. On April 1, 2011, Vodacom officially unveiled its new change in branding from blue to red, using the same style as its parent company, Vodafone.
Vodacom provides coverage to Mount Kilimanjaro, which once made it the highest point in the world to be covered by GSM. However, it lost that crown to TeliaSonera who now provides coverage at the top of Mount Everest, the highest point in the world.
Vodacom offers a multitude of mobile plans from contracts, prepaid and top-up plans to mobile money services and their own range of low cost handsets.
In 2015, Vodacom announced four new branded devices with the aim of bringing consumers low cost ways of staying connected:
Vodafone Smart Ultra 6
- Contract - enjoy the benefit of only paying for services after use via debit orders
- Prepaid - enjoy being able to control how much you spend upfront.
- Top-up – enjoy a set monthly cost with the freedom to top up your data or airtime if you use up your allocated amount
Vodacom Smart Speed
- Specs: 5.5-inch full HD IPS display, octa-core chipset, Android 5.0 Lollipop and 13MP premium rear camera as well as a 5MP front camera. Will connect to Vodacom's LTE network.
- PrePaid: R3 199
Vodacom Smart Grand
- Specs: 4.5-inch full wide VGA display with 854x480 pixel resolution. Runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, and has a 5MP camera. Will connect to Vodacom's LTE network.
- Prepaid: R1 299
Vodacom Power Tab 10
- Specs: 5-inch TN FWVGA, MTK6580M, quad-core 1.3 GHz CPU, Android 5.1 Lollipop
- Prepaid: R1 099
M-Pesa is a mobile phone based money transfer as well as a financing service, launched in 2007.
M-Pesa customers can deposit and withdraw money from a network of agents which includes airtime resellers and retail outlets acting as banking agents.
The service also allows users to deposit money into an account which is stored on their cell phones, send balances using PIN-secured SMS to other users including sellers of goods and services, and to redeem deposits for money.
A user is charged a small fee for sending and withdrawing money using the service.
Following a review of the service, Vodacom has decided to discontinue its M-Pesa product in South Africa from 30 June 2016.
Speaking about the decision, Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Chief Executive Officer, says: “Vodacom’s decision is based on the fact that the business sustainability of M-Pesa is predicated on achieving a critical mass of users. Based on our revised projections and high levels of financial inclusion in South Africa there is little prospect of the M-Pesa product achieving this in its current format in the mid-term.”
- Specs: 10” IPS WXGA, 10 point multi-touch, MTK 8311, dual-core 1.3GHz CPU, Android 5.1 Lollipop.
- Prepaid: R1 799