Former Vodacom executive Romeo Kumalo said his plans to launch a “gaming-changing” virtual network operator in South Africa are on track.
In October 2016, Kumalo told the Financial Mail the South African mobile industry can no longer be dominated by two players, adding that meaningful competition is needed to drive down prices.
He added that he planned launch a new MVNO in 2017.
Speaking to Destiny Man magazine recently, Kumalo said his company Washirika Holdings was at an advanced stage in negotiating the launch of an MVNO in the country.
He said their MVNO discussions have been held back by the government’s ICT White Paper, which he describes as an enabler.
The government’s National ICT Policy White Paper proposes the creation of a Wireless Open Access Network.
This network aims to create a competitive service-based mobile market, rather than the current system where there is competition on both the network and service levels.
Such a network will be great news for MVNOs, which do not own their own networks and only compete on services.
It is now a waiting game for Kumalo and Washirika Holdings, as the direction of the ICT White Paper is finalised.
“We’ve had substantial discussions and we now have an international partner on board, with the deal for funding nearly finalised,” said Kumalo.
“However, nothing can happen until the industry opened up and we’re hoping that the ICT White Paper will do just that.”
Washirika Holdings will first target South Africa with its MVNO, but plans to expand its service to Mozambique and Tanzania in the future.
While Kumalo did not mention his potential partners for the MVNO, Vodacom has operations in South Africa, Mozambique, and Tanzania.
It therefore makes sense that Kumalo – who has close ties with Vodacom, his former employer – would discuss the venture with it.
“Through the partnership we have formed with a major international player in the telecoms space, we believe we are well positioned to exploit the opportunity in the market,” said Kumalo.
“People will recognise that this is a game-changer when we go public with the identity of our international partner.”
MyBroadband asked Washirika Holdings for further comment regarding its MVNO plans, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.