Ericsson AB plans to enter the increasingly competitive African video-on-demand market in partnership with the Nigerian unit of Bharti Airtel Ltd.
The Swedish telecommunications company will operate the service -- to be called NuVu -- and make it available to Airtel’s 30 million subscribers in Nigeria in the first quarter of next year. The product will have access to 3,000 local and international TV and film titles, with prices ranging from $2 a month to as much as $5 a month for the full package with unlimited data.
“This is a service which we aim to bring out in sub-Saharan Africa, at least at the beginning, and look elsewhere at a later stage,” Niclas Ekdahl, managing director of NuVu, said by phone on Monday. “This is a medium which is growing exponentially.”
Ericsson is seeking new ways to tap into mobile-data growth as the rise of speedier fourth-generation systems curbs demand for its wireless networks. The company, which this month announced plans to partner with Cisco Systems Inc, cut its market-growth forecast on Nov. 10 to an annual 1 percent to 3 percent on average through 2018.
Naspers Ltd., Africa’s biggest company by market value, started its ShowMax video offering in August, while PCCW Ltd., controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li, is also seeking to enter the African market. Vodacom Group Ltd., the South African unit of Vodafone Group Plc, is in discussions with local and international content providers about delivering video-on-demand products across the continent, Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub said Nov. 9.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with about 180 million people. There were about 148 million mobile-phone connections at the end of September, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission. Airtel, a unit of New Delhi-based Bharti Airtel, was the country’s third-biggest provider at that time, the NCC said.
“Nigeria is a significant market in Africa as it’s got the largest number of smartphones and mobile phone connections in Africa,” Pierre Cloete, Ericsson’s head of TV and media for engagement practices for sub-Saharan Africa, said on Monday. “It is really the ideal market to launch in. It’s got a high potential of subscribers who want to have this service.”