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SA loses leading telecomms status

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Amid this week's slew of poor economic news, South Africa has also been ousted from its position as the biggest telecommunications market in Africa.

According to Informa Telecoms & Media, Nigeria is now officially the continent's biggest telecommunications market, having overtaken South Africa December 2007.
The continent's most populated country is leading the way in West & Central Africa not only in terms of market numbers, but also with services.
With a regulatory regime which introduced universal licences in the market, services providers are using new business models to improve access to the internet as well as voice communications.
As a result, GSM operators are experiencing competition from companies using alternative technologies, for the benefit of the consumers.
For example, CDMA player Starcomms is now the first non-GSM operator to claim more than 1-million customers in Nigeria, and is optimistic about gaining another 1-million in the coming months.
Other countries in the region are beginning to look into the opportunities of convergent or triple play services. France Telecom – Orange Group, with eight operations in the region is keen to draw from its experience in Europe to deliver both fixed-line and mobile services.
Its operation in Mali is at the forefront of this strategy, with a GSM network complemented by WiFi and WiMax technologies to offer wireless broadband services.
Newcomer in the region HiTs Telecom is also keen to bring convergence to Equatorial Guinea. In 2008, it is planning to launch a countrywide mobile, fixed and data network to provide convergent services, thus ending the current monopoly from the incumbent operator.