Demshi Investment Holdings has just signed “a term sheet agreement” with Telecom Namibia, which will see Demshi becoming the first Namibian mobile virtual network operator.
A mobile virtual network operator, largely referred to as MVNO, is a wireless mobile communication service provider that does not own a wireless network infrastructure but uses others’ infrastructure to provide its services to customers, much like Cell C mobile operator in South Africa.
The owner of Demshi Investment Holdings, Werner Shilunga, told New Era that the next step is to set up a steering committee and technical and operations’ management committee in the coming days, which will comprise of both Demshi and Telecom designated staff.
“Demshi shall be the chair of the steering committee. A project charter shall be set up very soon which will set out the roles and responsibilities of each party, deliverables and timelines to be met before launch of the MVNO and most importantly for the conclusion of the detailed wholesale commercial agreement to be finalised between Telecom and Demshi,” said Shilunga.
He added that the wholesale commercial agreement would be the definitive detailed guiding agreement between Demshi and Telecom. This step would allow Demshi to roll out its mobile network services and products by June this year.
Shilunga says he currently owns Demshi but he intends to bring on board “various Namibian private institutional partners for funding purposes and in the near future list the entity on the Namibia Stock Exchange so that the public can have an opportunity to own a stake in what would be the best mobile telecommunication operator in Namibia”.
Demshi is the second wholly privately owned mobile network operator vying to enter the market, with the other being Profile Technologies, which acquired 30 percent shareholding in MTN Namibia, a subsidiary of South Africa’s MTN group.
Profile Technologies and Demshi Investment Holdings are two black-owned Namibian firms set to enter Namibia’s largely monopolistic mobile network industry from July this year, at a time when the largest operator, MTC, is tangled in a web resulting from a scramble over its ownership.
Shilunga says Demshi is currently engaging foreign international brand partners to come board, especially those with a presence in Southern Africa and are willing to expand their brand presence in Namibia.
“This will enable them to cater for their visiting subscribers in Namibia as well Namibian subscribers visiting countries where the brand partner has presence,” he said.
As of the services and products to be offered, Shilunga says discussions would soon commence with the various banking entities for collaboration in mobile banking and mobile payment products.
“The convergence between mobile and banking is inevitable and Demshi as MVNO is well positioned to advance mobile banking and mobile payment to its clients, thereby further assisting with financial inclusion in Namibia,” he said.
“Demshi intends to make your cellphone more than just a mobile device – our tailor-made value-added services (VAS) will cut across entertainment, lifestyle and banking thereby making the 082 the best mobile operator in Namibia coupled with an excellent customer service and unmatched customer experience,” said Shilunga.
He said Demshi would embark on a recruitment process soon and “our aim is to attract young, innovative and highly technical individuals with a disruptive mentality – the mobile telecommunication industry needs to be disrupted and 082 will be the platform to do it.”
The two privately owned companies want to give competition to MTC, the now wholly owned state-owned subsidiary, as well as Telecom Namibia’s mobile network outfit, TN Mobile, another state-owned entity. Both MTC and TN Mobile are owned by the state through the Namibia Post and Telecommunication Holdings company (NPTH).
NPTH has received strict mandate from the country’s regulatory authorities, Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) and the Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) that it is to ensure that 29 percent of MTC shares are floated on the Namibian Stock Exchange by the end of this financial year.
Further, NPTH was told that it must make sure that it only holds 51 percent in MTC, while the Government Institutions Pension Fund is set to get 20 percent.
Demshi and Profile have previously told New Era that they are optimistic that the two state-owned mobile telecoms pose no serious threat to their soon-to-be-rolled-out networks. Businessman Vaino Nghipondoka owns Profile Investment Holdings, which owns Profile Technologies. Nghipondoka is the chairperson of MTN Namibia.