Wananchi Group under its flagship brand Zuku has announced an ambitious business strategy for the East African region which will see it focus its products to the mass market and the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Wananchi is the first TRIPLE PLAY operator in Kenya and on the African continent, offering video (cable TV), data (broadband Internet) and voice (telephony)

This business strategy will see the enhancement of existing Wananchi services and products which include its Cable TV operation (ex-Mitsuminet Cablevision) in Nairobi and Mombasa, providing up to 100 TV channels to about 12,000 customers. Wimax broadband Internet operation, providing 3 packages (256 KBps, 512 KBps and 1 MBps) to about 9,000 customers in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Nyeri and Eldoret and all existing and new operations under the commercial brand name ‘Zuku’

Wananchi’s new fibre network to link to 1,000,000 homes in East Africa by 2015

“The explosive pace of cable, wireless and broadband growth in East Africa offers tremendous opportunities for investors in the telecom and tech sectors. There is also phenomenon growth of Pay TV in emerging and mature markets despite the advent of “new media” on the Internet. Far from slowing the growth of Pay TV, new media has now been shown to have a substantial impact on boosting Pay TV. Global Pay TV penetrations range between 20% up to 80%, while in Africa the penetration is still less than 0.1%. This disconnect is where we see a great opportunity.” said Peter Reinartz, the Managing Director of Wananchi (Kenya) ltd.

Wananchi has invested over USD 100 million in its operations and infrastructure which will see its network design offering 100 MBps services to customers using the newest Cisco equipment and technologies. This also includes an IP head end with HD (High Definition) channels capable to serve the entire East African region via fibre links, FTTC (Fiber To The Curb) architecture, bringing signals via fibre to every street level, 1 GHz system providing plenty of bandwidth, future proof technology roadmap which will allow roll out of new and innovative services, e.g. Video on Demand (VoD), videoconferencing, amongst others.

According to Reinartz, Zuku will now offer unmatched speeds from 1 MBps up to 8 MBps for residential customers and from 8 MBps up to 20 MBps for business customers. “Our customers will now enjoy unmatched upload speeds and download speeds with unlimited use at fixed tariffs per month with guaranteed speeds and superb quality due to fixed network technology not influenced by weather or other conditions”

Wananchi has also invested in Zuku channels which include Zuku Sports and Zuku Sports HD, the first HD sport channel developed for the region, eight movie channels, including Zuku Movies Max and Zuku Movies Max HD, the first HD movie channel developed for the region (Zuku Movies Action, Zuku Movies Comedy, Zuku Movies Family and +1 versions of Max, Max HD and Action). Also in the channels stable are Zuku Afrika, a general entertainment channel focusing on African content from the continent and the world and Zuku Life, the first mainstream, general interest documentary channel originated in Africa. “To boost these offerings we have signed on third party channels focusing on General Entertainment, Movies, Sports, Music, Documentary, Kids, News and Business”, added Reinartz.

All broadband customers will receive voice handset with competitive tariffs which include free Zuku-to-Zuku calls, domestic calls at market rates and international calls at special rates. The Zuku voice offering will focus on delivering quality to international standards.

zuku bundles

As part of Wananchi’s ambitious network plan to pass 1,000,000 homes in East Africa by 2015, phase one of this project, Kileleshwa, Kilimani, Lavington, and Hurligham is complete. The next phase which will focus on South B and South C, Westlands and Parklands will be completed by first half of 2011. The rest of Nairobi and Mombasa are scheduled to be completed by second half of 2011.

Wananchi Group is owned 51% by the ATMT Fund, and 49% by Emerging Capital Partners.  Established in 2007, the Wananchi is the first competitive triple-play provider in East Africa, and is positioned to become the premier media operator in the region.  WG is a holding company providing common senior management to seven cable and broadband companies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The Company has already achieved significant milestones in its less than two years of operations, including:

·         Market leader with first mover advantage.  Through its strategic acquisitions, WG is now the leading residential provider of cable and internet service in Kenya as well as the leading business communications provider in Tanzania.

·         30%+ “Take Rate” among consumers.  Today WG’s 187km of cable network passes approximately 37,000 homes in Kenya.  Wananchi Group has a “take rate” on subscribers of more than 30%.

·         Proven Management Team. Many on the management team have worked together successfully for decades developing cable companies in similar emerging market conditions.

·         Prominent international and regional shareholders. In addition to the involvement of ATMT, ECP and OPIC, Wananchi Group can count prominent East Africans among its shareholders, including executives of the biggest financial and communications companies in the region.