Follow CAP on Social Media

Listen to the CAP Podcast

China Mobile Reportedly in Talks to Buy One of South Africa’s Largest Mobile Operators

Cell C is an unlisted mobile telecommunications company in South Africa that has 17.2 million subscribers, according to Blue Label.

Cell C has been in distress for quite some time and now there are reports that state-owned China Mobile is considering buying the embattled South African mobile operator. South African tech news site Tech Central quoted a source familiar with the negotiations who said a “deal is imminent.” 

Why is This Important?

  • Although’s China Mobile’s share of the domestic Chinese market is enormous, 1.6 billion connections and 460,000 employees, it almost no presence overseas.
  • If China Mobile buys a controlling stake Cell C it could have a profound impact on the South African telecom market given the company’s enormous resources and its ability to outspend the competition.
  • This would be the first time that Chinese companies would effectively control the entire communications ecosystem in an African country: from the data lines (China Mobile/Huawei) to the networking gear (Huawei/ZTE) to the consumer hardware (Tecno/Oppo/Infinix) to the customer relationship through Cell C (China Mobile).

Read the full report on the Tech Central website.

  • Get a daily email packed with the latest China-Africa news and analysis.
  • Read exclusive insights on the key trends shaping China-Africa relations.
  • Full access to the News Feed that provides daily updates on Chinese engagement in Africa and throughout the Global South.

China, Africa and the Global South... find out what’s happening.

Subscribe today for unlimited access.

What is The China-Africa Project?


The CAP is passionately independent, non-partisan and does not advocate for any country, company or culture.


A carefully curated selection of the day’s most important China-Africa stories. Updated 24 hours a day by human editors. No bots, no algorithms.


Diverse, often unconventional insights from scholars, analysts, journalist and a variety of stakeholders in the China-Africa discourse.


A unique professional network of China-Africa scholars, analysts, journalists and other practioners from around the world.