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Zain consolidates brands; aims to become mobile superpower

'One Network' roaming initiative to unite subsidiaries across Middle East and Africa

Zain’s arrival onto the world stage is typified by its plans to launch an IPO on the London Stock Exchange, which is reportedly scheduled for early next year. Its growth targets are on an organic basis, but the company has not ruled out entering further markets - with South Africa a possibility. While strong connections growth in its low-penetrated African markets is assured for the foreseeable future, Zain will need to look at ways of increasing profitability and ARPU. In markets where the vast majority of subscribers are prepaid and high-speed networks and services are rare or non-existent, this will be a challenge.

Profitability is also under pressure in these markets due to the capex commitments involved in building-out the networks into rural areas and increasing the number of distribution channels (Points-of-Sale). On the plus side, the One Network initiative already seems to be appealing to economic migrants and others involved in cross-border trade activities, and should continue to be a key advantage over its various local rivals.

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