The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Telcom Operators Embark On Promotions As Year Nears End

Despite a tepid year for the telecom sector after failure to meet the regulator's target of 60 per cent penetration by December 2012, telecom operators are looking to woo subscribers to hang on to their respective networks.

Tigo Rwanda, for instance, is rewarding its subscribers with Christmas gifts to thank them for their royalty.

"Because of the support of our customers, Tigo is able to celebrate another positive year. This is just one of the many ways we have to say thank you to all of them," said Diego Camberos, Chief Executive Officer, Tigo Rwanda.

Camberos says that through its sms-based bonane (New Year's) promotion, the company will be able to award over 180 of its subscribers throughout the festive season.

"We believe that our subscribers should have something to celebrate this festive season," Carine Umurerwa, the entertainment category manager at Tigo Rwanda said.

Tigo users can accumulate points by sending the word Bonane to the code '250', with each sms charged Rwf 35 with an immediate reward of a free SMS to sender, a move analysts say helps subscribers to be active on the network.

"I just sent an SMS for fun because I could not believe I could win but I was surprised that I have won in this promotion," said Emmanuel Niyonsenga, from Ngororero District, who won a scholarship worth Rwf 300,000 to educate his children.

Through the promotion that runs till next year, subscribers have a chance to win flat screen television sets, scholarships, Android phones, and shopping vouchers, among others.

Like Tigo, Airtel, which entered the market early this year is also attracting more subscribers through its magic simcard promotion where subscribers are offered 100 sms, and a choice to call for one Airtel number for a month free of charge.

MTN, the market leader, has also reloaded its Sharama promotion with its customers able to scoop fabulous prizes by sending an SMS.

"There should always be an assurance that a customer is always the boss in their business; closing the year by giving back is better than announcing huge profits as companies have done in the past," Job Opar, a consumer protection consultant, said.

Experts, however, say that there is need for telecom operators to attract new subscribers into their networks rather than struggle to compete for the current subscribers, something that has lowered penetration this year.

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