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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thoughts from Africa

Happy New Year.....

Before I get onto analysing the growing stream of pre-3GSM announcements, a quick post on observations of things mobile/wireless-related from my recent trip....

- I bought 3 prepay SIMs while I was away: 2 in South Africa (Vodacom, at about $3 each, I lost the first one...) and one in Mozambique ($2 on mCel, including $2 of credit). So, these supposed "2 billion mobile subscribers" worldwide? Just how many are duplicate SIM owners? I could quite believe that 10-20% of the global total are double-counted
- Plenty of GSMA-inspired low-cost Moto C115's in evidence
- ... but also quite a few high-end devices. Notable that a few shops in Maputo (capital of Mozambique) stock Moto RAZRs, Nokia N-series and other similar handsets, while Motorola has an extensive advertising campaign in the region for RAZRs - and not just in affluent areas either (I saw a huge poster in the JoBurg township of Soweto) Also quite telling that there seem to be various 3G phones sold in countries which only have 2G networks.
- Very few non-Moto/Nokia phones in evidence. A few Samsungs (especially in S Africa), but I hardly saw any LG's, S-Es or others.
- In Mozambique, everyone sells prepay top-ups. Clothes shops, pharmacists, petrol stations, hawkers on the street. Advertising is everywhere.
- Vodacom sponsored a music festival on New Year's Eve in the remote area of Tofo Beach, 7 hours' drive from Maputo. I guess the roaming revenues from a couple of thousand South Africans must have justified the expense....
- Public Internet access seems considerably rarer than in Asia or South America. No Bolivia-style Internet shops full of schoolkids doing homework and IM'ing

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