Gateway’s growth path
ALTHOUGH African communications provider Gateway’s launch into pay-TV comes at a time when the South African market stands on the cusp of competition, it has no short-term intention of competing with MultiChoice locally.
Chief operating officer Mike van den Bergh said it hadn’t applied for a local licence: “We see more opportunities in the short to medium term in the rest of Africa.”
Meanwhile, 18 other potential competitors to MultiChoice have thrown their hat into the ring, asking Icasa to grant them a licence, in a process that has yet to be adjudicated.
Among the larger possible entrants are Telkom Media, e.tv, and Sentech and the SABC; the last mentioned in a strategic alliance. There are also a host of smaller players, and MultiChoice must also formalise its licence as part of the process.
Although Van den Bergh did not elabo- rate on its reasoning for not applying for a local licence, it seems likely it didn’t consider the SA market particularly attractive in the light of the potential size of competitors, set against the backdrop of a dominant MultiChoice.
So the two will compete solely on African soil outside SA for the time being.
Gateway said its TV offering would be available from the middle of the year, with a “phased” rollout across sub-Saharan Africa. Initial countries include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Van den Bergh told Finweek previously that although South Africa remained a key country of expansion for Gateway, it was still difficult to plan given the continued regulatory “opaqueness”. He said at the time that relative to some parts of Africa, SA was not merely standing still, it was falling behind.