8 Giant Telecoms Companies Connecting Africa

8 Giant Telecoms Companies Connecting Africa

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Africa is a continent that has embraced telecoms technology and mobile on a wide scale, with numerous telecommunication corporations based in and out of Africa providing millions of African subscribers with a variety of mobile-based services.

These services enable improved lifestyles for Africans, with communication, finance, Internet connectivity and other elements provided via telecommunication technology and infrastructure.

We take a closer look at 8 of the African continent’s biggest telecoms companies.

Sources: Ur7s, BusinessTech, Fin24, BusinessStandard, Reuters.

Vodacom operates in the DRC – zoom-eco.info


Vodacom is the largest mobile service provider in South Africa, eclipsing MTN in their local market, though MTN Group is a bigger company than Vodacom overall. With UK-based Vodafone as their parent company, Vodacom provides over 61 million subscribers with services such as mobile voice, messaging, data and converged services. In additon to South Africa, the company has operations in Tanzania, DRC, Mozambique and Lesotho, and it is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Some of the matatus offering free WiFi courtesy of Safaricom with their Vuma Online branding (image: cio.co.ke)
Free WiFi courtesy of Safaricom with their Vuma Online branding (image: cio.co.ke)


Founded in 1997, Safaricom is now the largest mobile service provider in Kenya. In 2012 Safaricom became the first East African nation to provide its users with 3G technology, and the company has been a pioneer of technologies and cross over services in the region. Safaricom is passionate about sponsoring sport in Kenya, with interests in soccer and sevens rugby amongst other sports.

Orange is a service provider in many African countries – pctechmag.com


With a huge footprint in Africa, Orange S.A. is a French multinational firm that operates in many Francophone countries, most of which see Orange as the telecoms company with the biggest market share. Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Kenya, Uganda, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Niger all have Orange or Orange-owned telecommunications companies in their territories.


Global Telecom Holding

The telecommunications business was previously known as Orascom Telecom Holding, and operates successfully in North Africa. It is one of the largest operating GSM networks in the Middle East, Africa, Canada and Asia. In 1998 the company began operations in Egypt with the launch of Mobinil, the first Egyptian mobile operator. Since then the company has gone on to operate in Algeria as Djezzy GSM, Burundi as Leo Burundi, DR Congo as SAIT, Central African Republic as Telecel CAR and Zimbabwe as Telecel Zimbabwe.

MTN Fine

MTN Group

South Africa’s MTN Group made headlines last year because of the massive $5.2 billion fine imposed on its Nigerian unit by the Nigerian Communication Commission. Africa’s largest telecoms operator revolutionised the mobile industry by being only the second telecoms provider globally to introduce a prepaid system. Expansion into other parts of Africa began in 1997, with licences acquired in Rwanda, Uganda and Swaziland, before West Africa provided additional territories such as Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Benin and others.

airtel--621x414 (1)


Headquartered in India, but with a strong presence on the African continent, Airtel connects subscribers in Kenya, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Chad, Tanzania, Congo, Zambia, Madagascar, Uganda, Seychelles, Malawi, Nigeria, DRC, Niger and Rwanda. In fact, the company says that it ranks amongst the top five mobile service providers in the world based on their subscriber numbers. In May 2008, Airtel explored the possibility of buying a 51% stake in MTN Group for a reported offering of $19 billion, according to the Financial Times, but it did not materialise.

Etisalat bought 53% of Maroc Telecom

Maroc Telecom

Maroc Telecom is the main telecommunications operator in Morocco, and is listed on both the Casablanca Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris. Maroc Telecom also has a number of subsidiaries in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Mali, spreading their reach further afield than the North African country. In a 2013 deal, Etisalat bought 53% of the company for around $4.2 billion.

Etisalat – commsmea.com


This multinational telecommunications giant is based in the UAE, with operations in 15 countries around the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The 13th largest mobile network operator on the planet runs operations in Egypt, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan, Libya and parts of West Africa, while it has 53% ownership in Maroc Telecom, which serves subscribers in Morocco, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Mali.