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Driving mobile-enabled IoT and MVNO growth in Africa

August 25, 2022

Karmanie Naidoo   

Chief Executive Officer, MMD Mobility & IoT

In this insightful blog, Karmanie Naidoo, CEO of MMD Mobility and IoT together with its sister company MVNO Worx in South Africa, speaks about IoT Technology, the growing role of MVNOs, and the company’s intention to pillar these with the Tata Communications MOVE™ platform.

According to GSMA Intelligence the IoT market in Africa is experiencing rapid growth, with connections set to double over US$1 billion by 2025. Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will also see many IoT applications around smart city solutions, connected cars, fleet management, irrigation, agriculture and logistics & supply chain aimed to improve the quality of living. Delivering near ubiquitous connectivity, cellular technology will be a key feature in African IoT implementations and the role of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) will become increasingly important.

A McKinsey paper states, “the latest evolutionary wave is seeing MVNOs capture 10 to 40 percent of mobile business in developed markets”. With the appropriate regulatory environment and access to infrastructure, MVNOs in emerging markets like Africa can be steered in the same direction.

An innovative offering, MVNOs don’t own physical network infrastructure; they lease network from larger mobile network operators (MNOs). With no requirement to invest significant amounts in capital assets, MVNOs can focus on customer experience by offering highly targeted services and pricing packages.  In addition, with a strong infrastructure framework, MVNOs can provide a wide variety of services to their niche customer bases, as compared to traditional service providers.

“Accelerated by eSIM and 5G technologies, MVNOs can unlock exciting opportunities for small enterprises and entrepreneurs to tap into Web 3.0, AI technologies and Internet of Things.”

Apart from voice, data, and SMS solutions, MVNOs can play a big role in mobile-money services as well, enabling e-payments and micro-finance which are specifically useful for rural population in Africa who may have limited access to traditional financial institutions.

Connecting people and devices while achieving the forecasted growth requires not just access to a cellular network, but also access to a stable and feature rich Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE) service platform. Up until now, cost barriers, complex access agreements and the absence of a suitable back-office platform that enables automated service activation, fast customer onboarding and enhanced time to market for MVNOs has stood in the way of service integration and investment.

Overcoming these hurdles will be critical for the viability of MVNO market in Africa and that is what drives us at MMD Mobility & IoT. In our role as Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE), we have joined forces with Tata Communications, a global digital ecosystem enabler operating in over 190 regions and territories. Our aim is to provide an agile & flexible infrastructure backbone across Africa and create the right value propositions to cater to the multi-tier, multi-functional, cross border needs of MVNOs and IoT based enterprises.

“We chose the cloud based, fully automated, API enabled Tata Communications MOVE™ MVNE platform to deliver high-quality mobile connectivity and enhanced experience for MVNOs accessing and implementing voice, data, and SMS applications for their subscribers, and enterprises to create a foundation for innovative IoT implementations.”

As the McKinsey paper points out “winning MVNOs minimise costs by selecting the right mobile virtual network enablers to assist with key operations, such as billing and administration. Enablers can be critical – especially for small, new MVNOs – making it easier for them to roll out their businesses without excessive up-front investments.” Our agreement with Tata Communications has taken that dynamic fully into consideration. Pay-as-you-go terms will enable MVNOs of all sizes to cost effectively deliver new mobile services without making up-front investments in service management or their own mobile infrastructures.

Moreover, Tata Communications MOVE™ platform enables us to offer MVNOs convenient service set-up and configuration with reduced deployment times, operational flexibility to manage an array of services, and better responsiveness to adapt to market needs, such as, eSIM, iSIM and 5G technology.

“Working with Tata Communications will facilitate MMD to become the partner of choice for businesses and MVNOs that aim to introduce new solutions and ways to engage with their customers beyond SIM cards and boost operational efficiencies through next-generation digital applications.”

Businesses’ IoT ambitions in Africa tend to be constrained by the structure of mobile network licencing, variable connectivity and lack of reliable infrastructure. Through our partnership with Tata Communications, we plan to turn that situation around. Tata Communications’ tie-up with 600+ leading regional and global MNOs will enable us to provide fast and reliable connectivity for MVNOs and IoT enterprises to access new markets and operate across international borders like never before. On the back of this, MMD will soon be showcasing proof-of-concepts on IoT, particularly in the automotive, agriculture, and transport & logistics sectors.

Finally, the partnership will give us the flexibility to support new services and generate new revenue streams by extending our customers’ geographical reach beyond the African continent to serve new opportunities. Harnessing the power of Tata Communications MOVE™ will open the floodgates for mobile and IoT innovation, not only in Africa but also across the world.

To learn more about Tata Communications MOVE™, click here