For all your business information, Trends and Tips from around the world.

Business in Focus is now published at For all your business information, Trends and Tips from around the world, Check out our new blog HERE |

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another brand change for Celtel

May 12, 2008: Just when Kenyans are getting comfortable with the Celtel brand, consumers and marketers will have to once again change their perceptions as it switches its name to Zain later this year.

The remaining months of 2008 promise to be significant for the Kenyan operation.

The company is preparing its Nairobi office to become Celtel Africa’s headquarters, shifting from Amsterdam by June this year. It will also be welcoming a new CEO who will oversee the name change from Celtel to Zain.

This will be the third shift for the brand in as many years, following a decision by Celtel’s parent company Zain, to have a common corporate trading name in all the countries within its operations.

Celtel was formerly known in Kenya as KenCell, when the company was jointly owned by France’s Vivendi and local investor Sameer Group.

In 2004, the Dutch-owned Celtel International bought Vivendi’s stake in the company. In 2005, Celtel was bought by Arab-based MTC, which changed its trading name to Zain late last year. Sameer has maintained an ever-decreasing stake in the company over the last few years.

With each change, a new marketing and branding process has taken place, with Celtel Kenya ranking among the top five big spenders in advertising in the years it has been operational in the country.

“The re-branding of Celtel to Zain is now in progress and the other fifteen African companies should be re-branded in the third quarter of the year,“ said Chris Gabriel, Celtel’s CEO for Africa.

Zain has a presence in 22 countries, spread throughout Africa and the Middle East. The Middle Eastern operations started the shift last year, when it was expected that Celtel Africa operations in 15 countries would remain under the same brand name to ensure continuity.

With over 28 million subscribers, representing two-thirds of the Zain Group’s total subscribers, the decision to re-brand Celtel to Zain was announced in February this year.

This came just after the Kenyan operation had completed an aggressive, huge marketing drive to cement the name in the minds of consumers.

Gabriel says that the shifting of the headquarters to Nairobi in June is motivated by the fact that Nairobi is fast becoming a commercial and regional hub for the telecommunications industry.

The company will be working on a new strategy which will boost its business growth in the region, with the aim being to provide customers with affordable and quality services.

The first operations to be re-branded were those from Kuwait, Bahrain and London. In Sub-Saharan Africa Celtel operates in Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya ,Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.