MTN Uganda’s CEO spoke to PC Tech Magazine about his job and plans the company has for the short-term future. This interview was first published in Issue 24 (Print).
Q: What is your take on the increasing volume of unsolicited text messages and Robocalls? What measures is MTN Uganda putting in place to prevent them?
A: MTN Uganda has implemented all possible measures to prevent unsolicited messages and continues working with the regulator and all content providers to monitor the performance and take necessary actions accordingly.
Q: You’re a very big social media user. Can we expect to see MTN Uganda’s marketing strategies leaning more towards supporting online publishers?
A: In 2011 MTN Uganda took a new and dedicated focus on social media by launching our official pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with the intention of developing critical mass and loyalty from a specific segment of the market. A large majority of the followers of social media are the youth who comprise more than 60% of Uganda’s population. This segment of the population tends to be early adopters of technology as well as being trendsetters to their peers.
The social networking statistics show that Facebook penetration in Uganda is 1.68% compared to the country’s population and 13.40% in relation to number of Internet users. The total number of FB users in Uganda is reaching 560,000 and grew by more than 145,000 in the last 6 months. The uptake of social media as a lifestyle in the last 2 to 3 years has been incredible, especially among the youth, having been significantly affected by the evolution of Internet Options.
MTN Uganda (MTN UG) Facebook page is the Top in Uganda in terms of number of Fans number and growth; has attractevd to date more than 80,000 Facebook users with around 20,000 PTA (People Talking about).
QN: With over 16 years of experience, and coming from West Africa, what unique challenges do you foresee about your new task in Uganda?
The future of Uganda is bright and very promising, especially with the very young generation being over 60% of the population relying more and more on access to communication and digital services, MTN is confident that together with all partners we will drive Uganda to the next level and ensure that jointly we will deliver the ICT agenda.
The significant growth of Mobile Money Financial Services and increased demand on Internet access are the key areas that MTN Uganda will focus on as well as a dedicated focus and continuous investment during the coming years.
Q: What are the key achievements that you achieved in your previous job in Liberia that you would like to share?
As management team in Liberia, we were able within a short period, to launch new exciting and customized products and services including Mobile Money and data services resulted increase in MTN Market Share, overall subscriber base and Mobile Penetration.
Q: MTN has been leading in the introduction of new technology in Uganda. But nothing has been said of the 4G network. Should we hold our breath? Does MTN plan to launch this soon?
A: MTN is committed to continue leading the innovation and rollout of new strategic services in Uganda, our current Network infrastructure and Internal human skilled capital give us an important competitive advantage to bring next generation of Mobile Telecommunication and Digital Services to Uganda in the coming months.
Q: So what is your strategic focus for the next 5-year period?
A: In the next 5 years we will see the Ugandan telecommunications industry evolving with a focus on digital services and data network solutions. MTN will continue investing in converged communications solutions maintaining the telecom industry as a key driver of government revenue and transformation of lives – both in the business and personal space and with no doubt the telecommunications industry will continue to be a catalyst for economic development.
The expansion of Mobile Money as well as data and digital services will be the primary focus areas for MTN in Uganda during the coming years. Our strategic objectives are dynamic and provide a comprehensive roadmap to maintain MTN as a clear Number ONE for Customer Experience, Superior Quality and the Employer of Choice proposition with improved long-term Shareholder returns.
Q: Looking at your social media pages – Facebook, and Twitter – there is so much feedback, mostly negative. Do you sometimes feel like there’s so much pressure on the job? What do you perceive from such comments? Do you get the feeling of dissatisfaction among your loyal customers, especially looking at the volume of comments, and the tone with which they’re posted?
A: That the social network of MTN Uganda has exceeded 100% growth during the last 6 months – is an important indicator about the strong customer relationship and Brand strengths.
Like all successful brands, MTN recognizes the power of communities in influencing personal choices, behaviours and trends. It goes without saying that social media today has an unstoppable, magnetic and limitless power as a new channel to drive whatever message one wishes. With an unquestionable focus on customer engagement MTN looks at this medium as a crucial one.
Social media provides a platform for 360° engvagement with customers as it provides an opportunity for two way feedback. It is for this reason that MTN Uganda has a dedicated team that focuses on ensuring that this important segment of its customer base is provided with real time responses to their concerns and queries. The MTN Facebook and Twitter pages in particular provide an alternative channel for customer support.
Q: Are you able to share statistics on the growth of MTN Uganda subscribers during the 2012 year?
A: The telecommunications sector continues to drive development of the country’s economic growth. At MTN, innovation is one of our brand values and in our daily business activities we strive to ensure that all our products and services are relevant to our customers. MTN Mobile Money for example has been revolutionary service. It’s important to note that MTN Group is a pioneer of Mobile Money on the African continent. MTN Mobile Money is Uganda’s fastest growing service and 3rd world wide as per GSMA Research concluded recently. The major reason for this is the significant number of unbanked people in Uganda.
Over the last 14 years since the first mobile call was made in Uganda, we have seen number of subscribers to mobile phone services rise to over 14 million. This means that 14 million people in Uganda have access today to the mobile money service by default. Of the more than 7.5 million customers MTN Uganda has today, more than 3.5 million are registered on MTN Mobile Money and this year alone we have recorded around 200 million transactions using MTN Mobile Money Platform.
Q: While MTN mobile money has been immensely successful, there’s still no support for direct bank transfers? Is this something MTN is working on?
A: Currently the MTN Mobile Money service provides access to perform the most popular financial transactions that the ordinary Ugandan requires. This includes purchase of airtime, school fees payment, TV subscriptions, purchase of goods and services, payment of water and electricity bills, payment of salaries and secure money transfer from one account to another, just to mention a few. Through our partnership with Western Union, MTN subscribers registered for Mobile Money can send and receive Western Union Money Transfer transactions in their mobile accounts from 450,000 locations in 20 countries around the world- this is another first from MTN Uganda.
MTN Uganda is now working on how to integrate more financial services onto our platform and in a few months we hope to announce new, revolutionary financial services on our MTN Mobile Money platform.