How to spot competition

Jamis Commuter 4.0
Creative Commons License photo credit: richardmasoner

It’s been widely reported that the Competition Commission has been proving an alledged bicycle cartel. Retailers alledgedly agreed to increase prices to improve margins. This is not a strongly competitive market, which makes it quite an attractive market and good margins and profits should be available.

Creative Commons License photo credit: shareski

Vodacom  and Cell C have joined MTN in offering discounted calls in a pre-paid price war. The was the result expected from Virgin with their rather unsuccessful foray into our market, with promises of shaking up the industry and cutting prices. I don’t know how much credit they deserve, but this shows that strong competition is brewing in this market.

Cellphone penetration in South Africa is very high by any standard. Thus the market growth from here on out will be moderate. With increasing competition, decreasing margins, limited growth prospects, the significant barriers to entry don’t seem like enough to keep strong returns to this sector.

As an aside, Vodacom  reported increased spend per subscriber on their prepaid book, but more cautious spending on the postpaid or contract base. It will be interesting to see how this develops over time as our market characteristics change.

So, in spite of regular complaints from forum posters (not this website) that cellphone companies (along with banks and motor distributors) aren’t competitive, it seems there is at least some clear evidence of intense competition in the mobile telephone market.

Published by David Kirk

The opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and other commenters and are not necessarily those of his employer or any other organisation. David Kirk runs Milliman’s actuarial consulting practice in Africa. He is an actuary and is the creator of New Business Margin on Revenue. He specialises in risk and capital management, regulatory change and insurance strategy . He also has extensive experience in embedded value reporting, insurance-related IFRS and share option valuation.

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