It’s been a busy few months for Vodacom Group in Africa; deals with Vodafone Ghana and Safaricom have underlined its continuing ambitions for the continent. Now it plans to simplify its structure, beginning with the creation of a standalone South African operating company.
This structural change follows the recent expansion of Vodacom Group’s African portfolio and what it calls accelerated growth ambitions on the continent, including financial and digital services. The aim, it says, is to position Vodacom Group as a leading pan-African technology company.
Vodacom Group assumed management responsibility for Vodafone Ghana from 1 April 2020. It then concluded a joint venture with Kenya’s Safaricom (in which it owns a strategic stake) to accelerate the expansion of M-PESA, having acquired the M-PESA brand, product development and support services from Vodafone. Nor do expansion plans end there. Vodacom and Safaricom have also expressed interest in bidding for an Ethiopian telecommunications license as part of a consortium.
Vodacom Group’s plans to play a central role in overseeing all operations across its African footprint have, it says, necessitated the creation of a standalone South African operating company. This company will be led by Balesh Sharma, currently the director of special projects for the Vodafone Group, in the newly created role of managing director: Vodacom South Africa. He will report to Vodacom Group CEO, Shameel Joosub.
Of course, South Africa is an incredibly important market for Vodacom and one that still presents many opportunities – 5G has recently arrived in a number of cities. At the same time the company undoubtedly wants to focus strongly on its international portfolio which, according to its recent annual results, enjoyed “another stellar year”. It will be interesting to see whether this new business structure benefits both markets, and, if so, how.