Zain subsidiary Celtel International has announced the extension of its “One Network”, the world’s first borderless mobile network in Africa, to six more countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. As a result of the expansion 400 million people across 12 countries are now connected across Africa in one borderless mobile network covering an area more than twice the size of Europe.
The six new countries join the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in a network launched in September 2006 and which has been expanded due to increased demand. The extension of this technological breakthrough now offers the possibility for nearly half of Africa’s population to make calls at local rates across 12 countries throughout the continent. Above all, the expansion of One Network now means the world’s first borderless mobile phone network covers an area more than twice the size of the European Union. Indeed, in the opinion of the London-based Economist at the time of One Network’s launch: “Celtel has, in effect, created a unified market of the kind that regulators can only dream about in Europe.”
All Celtel customers, prepaid and postpaid, in the 12 countries from East, Central and West Africa, will be able to use this service. They can move freely across geographic borders making calls and SMS at local rates and receive incoming calls free of charge. They can also top-up their prepaid phones with locally-bought airtime cards which can be bought at more than 500,000 points of sale.
Since its launch more than two million people have already used the service. Zain Group CEO Dr Saad Al Barrak declared: “The innovation behind and the expansion of the world’s first borderless mobile phone network is a reflection of our dedication to the African continent and its people. We…intend to roll out this service to more of our operations on the African continent and in the Middle East.”
The One Network service is automatically activated upon crossing into any one of the other countries, with no prior registration required or sign-up fee charged.
The extension of One Network is crucial to Zain’s strategy of ensuring that its customers in Africa are connected through one borderless network - an initiative which it claims has not been done anywhere else in the world. Additionally One Network “plays a crucial role in helping to promote and boost cross-border trade while driving economic growth in East, Central and West Africa.”