Vodacom determined to venture into Africa

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Vodacom will shake off its shackles and venture fully into Africa once the deal to sell a controlling stake to Vodafone proves successful.

For the past one and a half years Vodacom has consistently voiced its desire to see a change in the company's shareholders agreement which restricted Vodacom from going into certain parts of Africa.

Vodafone has operations in seven African countries besides South Africa.

Five of these operations are Vodacom subsidiaries, a company that Vodafone has a non-controlling 50 percent share in.

The shareholders agreement prevents Vodacom from competing directly with Vodafone and vice-versa.

As a consequence Vodacom has been held back from venturing too far north while main South African competitor MTN has managed to cover significant markets on the continent and beyond to the Middle East.

This issue was a source of great frustration for retired chief executive Alan Knott-Craig who made a point to mention it during financial report gatherings.

Denis Smit, research director of ICT research firm BMI-T, said: "Going into Africa is definitely on the cards, and the shareholder's agreement will go away.

"Vodacom is very capable and will surely look for expansion."