(Nairobi, Kenya) – 5 August 2008 – The recent launch of Zain in Africa was celebrated with a series of spectacular events, attended by over 100,000 people. The events took place simultaneously across the company’s 14 African markets and were linked by the most ambitious live satellite link-up the continent has ever seen. Millions also watched the events on television.
The rebranding concerts were attended by some of Africa’s senior diplomats, VIPs, artistes and celebrities in all 14 countries who witnessed live speeches and festivities through an hour long live satellite feed that linked all countries to each other. The main event in Zain Africa’s regional headquarter Nairobi, was attended by Zain Group CEO, Dr Saad Al Barrak, and the President of Kenya, His Excellency the Hon. Mwai Kibaki C.G.H. MP, together with the Kenyan Minister for Information and Communications, Hon. Samuel Poghisio, MP and 1,000 dignitaries and guests.
During his speech, President Kibaki hailed Zain for its innovativeness by coming up with the ‘One Network’ service, that substantially reduces the costs of telephony. President Kibaki said, “Indeed, we are already observing that growth in mobile telephony has provided a reliable form of communication to rural communities, thereby enabling our farmers to market their produce.”
The President observed, “This has not only enabled businesses to operate at lower costs but has also made communication cheaper for families that live across borders.”
With regard to the growth of the ICT sector, he made the historic announcement that the Government had removed all import duties and tariffs on Information, Communications and Technology goods in Kenya, at the same time outlining plans on the installation of fibre optic cables linking Kenya to the rest of the world.
On his part Dr Al Barrak, (who a day earlier had private and productive meetings with President Kibaki) graciously thanked the President for his attendance and staunch support of the industry and promised that “Zain will deliver world-class services to Kenyans, with a commitment to a Kshs 25 billion (USD 400 million) investment in network upgrades as well as assuring him of Zain’s commitment to supporting many socially responsible community projects.”
Many famous African artists performed at the 14 events. These included Kenya’s Suzanna Owiyo, Bebe Cool from Uganda and Nigeria’s 9ice, who all recently performed at the Zain Group sponsored concert to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday in London. Also performing at the launch concerts were several of Africa’s leading international artistes including Grammy Award nominee Manu Dibango, P Square, Salif Keita, Alif Naaba, Koné, Afrikando and Maureen Lilanda.
Other highlights include a live concert for 40,000 people by Grammy award winner Wyclef Jean in Uganda. The live satellite link across Africa and the Kenyan rebrand were hosted by the actor John Sibi-Okumu, famous for his appearance in The Constant Gardener (2005).
The African launch coincided with an announcement by Zain that it has created the world’s first cross-continental borderless network, extending and linking its ‘One Network’ service between Africa and the Middle East. The service will be available to 500 million people stretching from the west coast of Africa to the Middle East, covering an area larger than the United States of America.
Mr. Chris Gabriel, Chief Executive Officer, Zain Africa, added:
“These events were intended to be a celebration of all that is great about Africa and all that is great about Zain. The rebranding of our African operations and the extension of One Network represent important milestones, not just for our company but also for Africa and the wider mobile telecommunications industry.”
All of the company’s 14 mobile network operations across Africa will now immediately rebrand to Zain. These are located in Burkina Faso, Chad, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Zain will launch its mobile operation in Ghana later in 2008.