In another strategic and pioneering move to strengthen presence in Nigeria’s vibrant market, BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion (RIM) has signed an agreement with Visafone Nigeria, for the launch of BlackBerry services on Visafone’s Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) mobile network.

Visafone Chairman, Jim Ovia while commenting at the launch in Lagos, noted that Visafone becoming the first carrier to introduce CDMA – enabled BlackBerry smartphones in Africa and the Middle East, marks another milestone in Nigeria’s highly competitive market.

BusinessDay quoted Ovia as saying: “This partnership represents a big step forward in Africa’s mobile history and we are excited to be at the forefront of such a ground-breaking development in Nigeria. We have responded to our customers’ demands for Blackberry services…”

According to the Chairman who also heads Nigeria’s biggest financial institution, Zenith Bank, the introduction of the Blackberry services is a critical part of Visafone’s data strategy. More importantly, it contributes significantly to the local telecoms regulator’s and CDMA operator’s efforts to boost data usage among the country’s over 101 million active mobile users.

Following the advent of strongly capitalized and well structured GSM operators into the Nigerian market from 2001, formerly preferred CDMA companies such as Starcomms, Multi-Links, began recording plummeting growth and profits. Since, efforts have been made unsuccessfully to resurrect the sub-sector that upheld the nation’s telecom industry.

In August, three CDMA companies in the country – Starcomms, Multi-Links and MTS, merged to birth a larger and stronger company CAPCOM, in a hopeful bid to strongly compete with the local GSM giants.

Industry analysts have said the Visafone and RIM marriage is targeted at increasing Visafone’s operations and share in the Nigerian smartphone and data telecommunications market.

Three Blackberry smartphones would be made available of the Visafone platform – Curve 9310, Curve 9370 and Bold 9930 devices. Visafone and RIM have said the devices would be available to customers in all 88 Visafone shops nationwide for pre-booking, from Monday, October 29.


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