London, October 18, 2011 (MAP)
London, October 18, 2011 (MAP)
International think-tank Oxford Business Group (OBG) stressed, on Monday, the importance of changes witnessed by Morocco’s telecommunications sector, which offers real commercial opportunities.
The sector is witnessing an “increased competition that will make the regulators happy, while the resulting fall in prices and rise in services will be good for consumers,” the OBG says in an analysis received by MAP.
“The innovative packages operators are offering should help them maintain their bottom lines as they adjust to the changes in what is becoming a more challenging market – but one with enhanced opportunities,” notes the think-tank, recalling that The National Telecommunications Regulation Agency (ANET) has recently encouraged the country’s largest mobile operators to expand coverage and diversify services to gain an edge in what is becoming an increasingly mature market.
“The increase in usage and drop in prices are in large part due to the increasing maturity of the country’s telecoms market, which is forcing companies to come up with ever-more innovative ways of maintaining growth,” the OBG says, adding that “the intensifying competition has already had a noticeable impact on balance sheets.”
“Maroc Telecom registered a group-wide turnover of Dh15.32bn (€1.35bn) in the first half of 2011, down slightly the same period last year, although it also saw a significant 16.5% increase in its customer numbers to 27.5m. Profits fell by 10.3% year-on-year, however, to Dh3.99bn (€352m),” the think-tank says.
It notes that “the firm says it expects revenues for 2011 as a whole to also fall due to its decision to cut prices in the second quarter in the face of rising competition.”
However, the OBG says, “the increased competition in the firm’s domestic market has been partly offset by a 4.8% increase in turnover in its other neighbouring markets, namely Benin, Gabon, Mali and Mauritania, where customer numbers grew much faster on end-June 2010, by 47% to 8.7m.”
Faced with a maturing Moroccan market, the company is seeking to expand the contribution of its foreign subsidiaries to its turnover from 17.7% in 2010 to 30%, the OBG underlines.
As the market becomes more competitive, other Moroccan providers are also expanding their networks and offering more innovative packages that offer post-paid contract-style incentives of free minutes and other benefits to prepaid, no-contract customers, who continue to overwhelmingly dominate the market, according to the think-tank.
It adds that “Morocco’s second-largest communications provider, Méditel, announced in mid-May that it had expanded its 3G coverage to 27 new municipalities and rural areas in the course of recent months.”
In June, the OBG notes, “the firm launched a new prepaid service, Méditel Jahiz MIX, aimed at young people that includes free minutes, free SMS messages and unlimited 3G access,” adding that Inwi, the mobile phone service of Wana, in May similarly launched a contract-free phone plan called Zen.
Wana (formerly Maroc Connect), controlled by investment fund ONA/SNI, is the most recent entrant to the mobile phone market and still the smallest of the three players in the segment, though it has been growing rapidly and significantly expanding its market share in recent months and years, further underlining the increasing level of competition,” the OBG concludes.