Home Telcos Millitary-owned Viettel Launches in East Africa

Millitary-owned Viettel Launches in East Africa

by Sam Wakoba

1429-141008mMilitary-owned and Vietnam-based telecoms operator Viettel is set to launch 3G services in Tanzania in 2015 after it was granted a licence to operate in the country, and set to take on four other operators in a nation with 45 mln people and 29 milion subscribers.

Viettel is set to start building its national network on Nov. 1 then launch it’s mobile services in July 2015. The firm also aims to launch a fibre-optic cable throughout Tanzania, a move the government says alligns with its objectives. The firms fibre is expected to serve 150 district hospitals, 150 district government offices, 65 post offices and 500 secondary schools.

The firm will be taking on Vodacom Tanzania, Airtel ; Tigo Tanzania, and Zantel,  TTCL, Benson and Smart. Fresh from launching in Peru, Viettel is present in 10 countries with 68 million customer including Cambodia, Laos, Timor, Haiti, Mozambique and Cameroon.

Viettel’s operations in Burundi and Tanzania are under infrastructure deployment while it’s set to secure a license in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It’s launch in Tanzania will either break it or make it as Tanzania is also a key East Africa market with a couple of similarities to the rest of the East African region.

According to reports, Viettel has expressed intention to acquire a 70 percent stake in Telkom Kenya after it dropped the yuMobile bid. There have been speculations that Orange Telecom will sale off it’s stake in Telkom Kenya and leave the market because of it’s competitiveness.


East Africa’s telecom market might never be the same with Viettel’s entry. Safaricom, East Africa’s biggest operator by revenues and subscribers had $1.428 Billion in revenues in 2013 with an operating income of $293.103 million. Viettel had over $7bnin revenues. Apart from 3G services, the firm also has video calls, TV mobile, video-on-demand, online music and plans to go bigger in the devices markert manufacturing selling smartphones and TVs . Viettel has sister companies such as Vietnam Distribution and Viettel Post, Viettel News among others. 

One unique selling point for Viettel’s Africa expansion which played a huge role for it’s launch in Tanzania was it’s experience and willingness to launch operations in some of the un-sexiest parts of the world such as Laos, Cambodia, Haiti, Mozambique and Peru.

Within only one year into it’s launch in Mozambique,  Movitel has increased its coverage area from 60% to 80% and doubled the number of covered people from 35% to 85%. Nearly 600,000 people in at least 5 rural districts in Mozambique have been covered and served telecom services for the first time in life. Movitel has had over 5 million users, taking the leading position in the mobile market.

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