Viettel sets sights on Swaziland

Viettel sets sights on Swaziland.

Country's regulator confirms Swavitel's application still needs to go through approval process.

Swaziland based firm Swavitel has submitted an application to roll-out a new mobile operator in Africa's absolute last monarch, an official confirmed to ITWeb Africa.

Vietnamese military owned mobile operator Viettel is the parent company of Swavitel.

Other African markets where the Vietnamese ministry of defence-owned Viettel operates includes Mozambique, where it now operates under the Movitel banner.

Acting chief executive officer for the Swaziland Communications Commission (SCCOM), Mandla Motsa told ITWeb Africa that the regulator is working on developing regulatory frameworks to issue a license for a new mobile operator.

SCCOM is the regulator of the country's telecommunications industry.

Motsa noted that he cannot confirm exactly when a new mobile operator would be launched in the landlocked nation as the process still has to go through parliament.

"It is my estimation that if everything goes well, by the end of 2015... the expectation is that we should have considerations made by the end of 2015," he told ITWeb Africa.

"Viettel already operates in Mozambique as Movitel. I think they see opportunities to operate in Swaziland hence their indication to put systems in place here," he added.

Swaziland has only two network operators namely Swazi Telecom, which operates as a fixed line network operator, and MTN Swaziland, which is the country's chief mobile operator.

The new telecoms company is expected to compete with the country's sole mobile operator, MTN Swaziland, according to Motsa.

According to the World Bank Swaziland has a population of 1.2 million people. Its mobile subscriber numbers approximately stand at 700,000 Motsa stated.

Motsa told ITWeb Africa the number of individuals still without mobile devices presents room for other players to participate in the country's mobile space.

"You need competition.

"It would depend on how they actually position themselves. I think anybody that wants to come in can come and actually see how best they can position themselves and get into the market," he said.

And according to Motsa there shouldn't be problems why Swavitel should not get the license to operate as the country's second mobile operator.

Meanwhile, earlier this month French telecoms company Orange confirmed to ITWeb Africa that it had no plans to launch a mobile network operator in Swaziland.

It was reported that the French telco was "eyeing Swaziland's mobile phone market and could soon add Africa's last absolute monarch to its growing presence on the continent".

However, Orange Horizons chief executive officer Sebastien Crozier stated the report was a misunderstanding as there are no plans for other operations in the southern African country.