Nokia remains bullish about Africa business despite economic slowdown

Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:18pm EST
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By TJ Strydom

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Finnish network equipment maker Nokia remains upbeat about its growth prospects in Africa despite a slowdown in many of the continent's fastest-growing economies, a senior company executive said on Thursday.

Nokia, which sold its once-dominant mobile handset business to Microsoft in 2014, deals in Africa mostly with telecommunications operators and governments, both of which have been hit by weaker currencies and slower economic growth.

But a growing wave of consolidation in the sector is forcing mobile operators to step up investment to take advantage of the spectrum they gain, said Nokia Solutions and Networks head for Southern Africa Deon Geyser.

"Worldwide growth is flattish, but Africa is a pocket of growth for us," he told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the AfricaCom conference.

The region Geyser manages, which stretches from South Africa to Tanzania, is heavily dependent on commodities exports, and Geyser said the fall in the oil price had "hit a few key economies and subsequently the way they invest."

However, he said fundamental technology trends remained unchanged and the company was "bullish" about Africa.

"You still have a significant amount of voice growth, even though revenue is flat, and you still have significant growth in data," he said.

Nokia's dominant networks division last month reported total net sales of 2.88 billion euros ($3.09 billion) in the third quarter, down two percent from a year earlier but up five percent from the second quarter.   Continued...

The Nokia headquarters is seen in Espoo, Finland, July 28, 2015. Nokia Corporation published the interim report for Q2 2015 and January-June 2015 on July 30, 2015. . REUTERS/Mikko Stig/Lethikuva