Viettel Corporation, which is wholly owned by the Vietnamese government via the Ministry of Defence, has reportedly earmarked the Kenyan wireless sector as its next target as it bids to grow its emergent mobile business in Africa. In an e-mail interview with The Nation, Nguyen Duy Tho, Viettel Global’s general director, stated: ‘Viettel has been the smallest investor among international telecommunications investors [thus far], but we have grown well [in] developing markets … We know this type of market very well’. However, Duy Tho declined to reveal a provisional timeline for the Kenyan venture.
Viettel capably demonstrated its credentials in May this year when it launched Movitel in Mozambique, a joint venture with the country’s ruling Frelimo Party (29%) and local investor Invespark (1%). After formally acquiring its Mozambican licence on 10 January 2011, Viettel claimed to have rolled out 1,800 mobile base transceiver stations (BTS) and deployed 12,600km of fibre-optic cable, meaning that the newcomer now presides over the bulk of both sets of infrastructure in the south-eastern African nation.
To date Viettel has invested in six disparate markets outside of Vietnam, and currently owns assets or licences in Cambodia (Metfone), Laos (Unitel), Haiti (Natcom), Mozambique (Movitel), Peru (Viettel Peru) and Timor-Leste. In addition, the company has expressed an interest in entering North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Slovakia, Paraguay and Cameroon.