Friday, May 28, 2010

When the Grass Suffers

There's a saying in Africa that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. That's a good description of what's happening at the moment in the world of Swaziland's telecommunications: Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications (SPTC) are fighting with Swazi MTN. And what are they fighting about? The usual-- who gets the chance to make the grass suffer. Unfortunately the Kingdom is riddled with monopolies (they are the norm here) and corruption is widespread (especially because the monopolies will do whatever it takes to retain their monopolies).
SPTC recently introduced a 'fixed cell' (i.e., not mobile) service, and a lot of people have signed up for it because it is workable and ostensibly cheaper than Swazi MTN. Now, just a few weeks into the new service, MTN are crying that their profits are suffering and they are seeking legal action to regain their monopoly.
Swazi MTN have no customer loyalty at all nor any business acumen when it comes to competition: so their response is not unexpected, but it is so akin to a baby wailing and shaking its rattle that the public is unmoved. But the outcome will no doubt be that the grass will be the ultimate loser here. Natch.

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