Vietnam’s military-run telecoms launches first African operation

Viettel Group, a Vietnam-based military telecommunications company, yesterday launched its first mobile network in Africa called Movitel in Maputo, Mozambique.

Movitel becomes the network operator’s first mobile set-up in Africa joining its already established networks in Latin America and Asia.

Viettel says investing in Movitel cost it over $400 million US dollars. This initial capital outlay, it confirmed, has propelled it to be the mobile network with the largest coverage in Mozambique.

The network has since doubled its coverage level as required by Mozambique’s licensing body. In just over a year since its licensing in the country, Viettel has built 12, 600 kilometers of fibre optic cable and set up 1800 mobile stations around Mozambique, representing 70 percent of the country’s total fibre optic cable network and 50 percent of Mozambique’s mobile stations.

This has tripled the density of Mozambique telecom infrastructure making it one of the fastest growing telecom networks, Viettel reports.

Viettel has also announced an ongoing project to connect and provide free Internet to about 4200 schools, Viettel says, follows a pledge it made to Mozambique’s government early last year. At present, over 500 schools enjoy free Internet as part of the project.

“The Mozambican Government appreciates Viettel’s serious investment and commitment to social responsibility. This is the first time many areas will have had access to telecom services, so the company has made a major contribution to the implementation of Mozambique’s socio-economic development and poverty reduction strategy,” said Mozambican President Armano Emilio Guebuza.

Since entry to Mozambique, Viettel contributes 1 to 2 percent of the country’s GDP and mobile phone coverage has risen by between 50 to 80 percent.

About 95 percent of the people in the rural areas have been able to access telecommunications services and over 10,000 jobs provided through Viettel sales network according to their data.

The efforts have helped narrow the digital gap between rural and urban areas, and rich and poor.

The move could see Mozambique become among the Sub Saharan Africa’s top three countries with high fibre optic cable penetration after South Africa, Ghana and Kenya.

Besides Mozambique, Viettel says, it eyes expansion into other African Countries in the near future. Last year Viettel earned almost US$6 billion. The group boasts of a wider subscriber base of up to 60 million worldwide and is one of the 15 largest companies globally.

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