Africa’s telecom giant, MTN is betting on a new music streaming product to boost revenue and counter declining voice call sales in Uganda.

MTN is big in Nigeria and across West Africa but it is also big in the East African country where it has a subscriber base of more than 10 million and competes chiefly with Airtel.

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But last year, its revenue per user stood at $2.2, down from $3.4 three years earlier, amid competition from Over the Top (OTT) call and chat services offered by American giants such as Google and Facebook.


“It’s a do or die,” Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Prentout told Reuters, describing the necessity to explore for new, unconventional sources of revenue and added that other partnerships may follow in sectors such as health and education.

“There was a time when the telcos could own everything. The voice, it was us. SMS, it was us. But with the internet coming suddenly there’s a lot of OTTs that are coming and playing in the sphere of the telecoms.”

MTN’s revenue from voice call business in 2017 declined 8.7% from the previous year while in contrast data sales jumped 23% in the same period.

Launched this week, the streaming service, jointly offered with industry minnow TIDAL, will compete in a market dominated by the likes of Spotify and Apple Music.

Low smartphone reach and piracy could also pose challenges, as well as the poor performance of a related service, online TV.

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