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Hard work and dedication pays off...

company profile

Hard work and dedication pays off...

Editorial: Harriet Pattison Production: Chris Bolderstone

First featured in IndustrySA in August 2012, MTN have continued to succeed, innovate and remain a valuable brand in an industry which just keeps on growing. This month IndustrySA speaks to MTN SA CEO Zunaid Bulbulia about its unstoppable success.

Telecommunications is becoming one of the fastest growing sectors in South African economy, largely due to the exponential growth in cell phone usage and the gradual increase in broadband connectivity. With more and more people using mobile phones, internet accessibility on cell phones has dramatically changed connectivity across Africa. South Africa now has the most developed telecommunications network on the continent. Globally we are seeing mobile phone usage grow at an unbelievable rate with more and more businesses relying on these devices to ensure the smooth running of their business and to stay connected in a world heavily focused on social media and networking. From 2000-2010, mobile phone use in South Africa increased from a mere 17% to a staggering 76%. Almost 30 million South Africans now use a mobile phone, with only five million now using landline telephones. This


figure is more than both radio and TV usage in South Africa. It is clear then why telecoms is not only one of the most important industries across South Africa but one of the most competitive. At the start of the year, IndustrySA featured the incredible growth of MTN South Africa (MTN SA) which topped the list of top South African brands in 2013 and was named as one of the top 500 most valuable brands in the world. Founded in 1994, MTN has successfully changed the face of communications across Africa. CEO of MTN SA, Zunaid Bulbulia, attributes this impressive and continued success to the hard work and dedication of the staff; “It might seem like a clichĂŠ to say that a company is only as good as its people but we at MTN truly believe this. The telecommunications industry is one of the most competitive in the world and the South African marketplace is no different. Without our employees, there would be no awards and we would not be able to achieve the successes we have had to date. By being named one of the


top brands in the country shows the MTN leadership (and the staff) that our collective hard work is recognised in the South African market.” The growth of telecommunications, not only in South Africa but globally, is increasing at a staggering pace as more and more businesses realise the potential of this industry. Bulbulia explains: “Given the connectedness of the world today, there certainly has been a fundamental shift in the market. As a way for people, businesses, and companies to engage and interact with one another, telecommunications provide the foundation. Over the past two years, we have seen how mobile devices (both smartphones and tablets) have permeated virtually every facet of our society. It has also changed the African market with people having access to world-class network infrastructure bringing with it increased bandwidth and more competitive data rates. “Telecommunications is vital for the empowerment of

people. Just look at how many entrepreneurs run their businesses from their mobile phones. Without a quality and reliable network, this would not be possible and economic growth would stagnate” he says.

STAYING CONNECTED MTN now operates in 21 countries across Africa and the Middle East. As a multi-national telecommunications group, MTN is nearing 200 million subscribers across operations that include, Botswana, Cyprus, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Swaziland. One of four licensed mobile operators in South Africa, including Vodacom, Cell C and 8ta (a subsidiary of Telkom); MTN is leading the way in making international paths with over 100 million subscribers within these operations. Undersea cables which link South Africa to the rest of the continues on page 37...


Do you have the time? While time consuming business justifications are being put together for the next big BI project or technology acquisition, everybody seems to be missing the most important aspect and that is time or rather the lack thereof. People do not buy a fast food burger or drumstick because they like it – they buy it because they can have it in 2 minutes. Per second billing has replaced per minute billing since people no longer have the time for lengthy conversations. Why would BI be any different? Yes, we are all aware of the importance of proper processes and procedures, redundancy and disaster recovery, but while all this is happening your business does not only change, but it is being devoured by your competitor. Agile arrived on the scene with a bang and even though many people would argue that it has not delivered on expectation it is mostly because it is being evaluated against incorrect criteria. Agile in its nature should have one key measurement and that is time. When it involves BI we have been our own worst enemy. The initial intention was for it to provide speedy insight to Executives in order for them to run their businesses more effectively. However, it did not take long before the value of an integrated data source was realised and suddenly, what was supposed to be a few executive dashboards, turned into thousands of operational reports. Regulatory guidelines and financial principles also makes the accuracy of operational reports essential. As a result, highly skilled professionals spend weeks ensuring the quality of data. In the midst of this happening, BI starved Business Executives are left coveting the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow only to realise that they are actually funding the entire exercise from their own “pot of gold”. “When I analyse my business and predict the future from millions of lines of data, the fact that ten lines are missing or one client has been duplicated, will have a negligible impact on the trend or prediction. I want answers and I want it quickly and if I have to apply the 80/20 rule where 20% of the data will tell me 80% of what I want to know and I can get to that information in days rather than months, I will take it anytime.”

Operational BI has its rightful place but has become the Achilles heel for securing budgets for future BI projects. Executive BI done right will become a self-fulfilling prophecy since speedy delivery of information to leadership will ensure better management and higher profitability, which in turn will make available more money for other projects. It is, therefore, essential to divorce the concepts of operational BI and Executive BI. It is inevitable that the one will always follow the other but unless you draw the distinction, you will be serving both an injustice. An answer not received today will become useless, since the question tomorrow will be different. Armandè Kruger – Regional Sales Director, PBT Group

MTN ...continued from page 33 world are also underway, helping to create not only local internet access but a continued increase in mobile phone usage too. Despite this usage increase, data charges are decreasing and operators like MTN are seeing more subscribers as a result. One of these expansions is a 5000 km fibre optic cable network, being built by MTN, Vodacom and Neotel. It will provide connection to several major centres across South Africa. The first phase, commissioned in June 2010, links Gauteng with KwaZulu-Natal. Previously, the Seacom Submarine fibre optic cable system that links South and East Africa to global networks via Europe and India was introduced in 2009. The West Africa Cable System, Africa’s largest capacity submarine fibre optic cable, links Southern and Western African countries with Europe. This has raised South Africa’s broadband capacity to more than 500 Gigabits per second (Gbps). South Africa has further cable expansion plans which include a South Atlantic Express Cable that will run between South Africa, Angola and to Brazil, with onward connectivity to the USA. With an estimated cost of R3 billion, it will be the highest capacity cable to serve South Africa when it becomes operational later this year. To help improve local connectivity, national and city-wide fibre optic cable networks are also in talks. The government, via the Department of Communications, wants to implement a National Broadband Network by 2020 to ensure universal access. The Western Cape also plans to connect the 4000 government facilities and every school in the province to a

broadband network and to further ensure IT facilities are readily available to the public.

MTN: TOP EMPLOYER MTN SA demonstrated its success once again when it won Top Employer for 2014, an accolade that is only offered to the best employers globally and those that provide employees with the highest standard of benefits. MTN SA offer a wide range for its employees, including; company car and travel allowance, phone allowance, home internet connection, pension scheme and performancerelated bonuses. It also provides networking opportunities that are available through sporting events, online blogs and forums, social events and social media. Nearing 6000 employees, MTN SA are leading the way in development with numerous programmes to ensure the progress of each employee is optimised. Bulbulia explains, “MTN views each employee as a unique individual and provides in all their needs. As such, the corporate environment allows for significant personal growth and opportunities both in South Africa and abroad.” MTN also offer the biggest graduate-development programme in the country, employing more than 200 technology graduates every year in addition to high performer programmes, job rotation opportunities, international exchanges and mentoring programmes for its employees. continues on page 41...


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MTN ...continued from page 37

MTN SA INNOVATION AWARD In March 2013, MTN SA won the Global Telecoms Business Award (GTB) for Wireless Network Infrastructure innovation. This award is one for projects, rather than products and acknowledges excellence in collaboration between the operators and the vendors. Presented in London, it represents MTN SA’s successful implementation of cVidya’s MoneyMap Revenue Assurance Solution. CVidya is a leading provider of revenue analytical solutions for communications and digital service providers. Since its deployment in 2010, MTN SA have seen a return on the investment which has helped to improve billing accuracy, boosted revenue and the all-important, customer experience. MTN SA is expanding cVidya’s coverage to further revenue intelligence which will include new business lines and risk management.

MTN SWAZILAND MTN Swaziland, a subsidiary of MTN which has also been innovating recently, first began operating in September 1998. In 1999, it launched a R4 million voicemail system, meeting the 12 month coverage obligation an impressive nine months ahead of schedule. MTN Swaziland continued to provide telecoms and in 2002, launched SMS and increased its coverage to 75%, creating R71 million in revenue for that year alone. With nearly 300,000 internet users, Swaziland has seen a staggering increase with user numbers trebling since 2009

“Telecommunications is vital for the empowerment of people. Just look at how many entrepreneurs run their businesses from their mobile phones” when there was only 90,000 users. Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC), the state owned operator, had, up until 2011, a stake in the country’s sole mobile network. Since then, the SPTC has transferred its stake into MTN and in 2011, MTN Swaziland received its 3G licence and the rights to its own network which resulted in an international gateway. MTN Swaziland are now the sole mobile provider of Swaziland with a mobile network coverage of over 70% of the geographical area, including many major business centres and is continuing to grow. The mobile market penetration in Swaziland is high above the African average and although the subscriber rate has slowed, the average revenue per user is now the highest in Africa. Although MTN Swaziland has a well-developed fibre

optic network, prices have increased due to the reliance on neighbouring countries where international bandwidth is more expensive. With the introduction of localised submarine fibre optic cables being installed, however, MTN Swaziland are relying on these prices falling for its customers in due course.

PLS SPONSORSHIP RENEWAL In March of this year, MTN Swaziland renewed its sponsorship with the Premier League of Swaziland (PLS). The company have been league sponsors since 2001 when it took over from Swaziland Beverages. MTN is in talks with the PLS about how they can improve and get more value from the football sponsorship. Under the current format as MTN Corporate Affairs Manager Mpumelelo Makhubu put it, the sponsorship package is E1,335,000 from which the champions pocket E770,000, which is inclusive of the E100,000 for CAF Champions League participation. “It is true that we will be renewing our sponsorship for a year in the current format while we continue our engagements with the PLS,” confirmed Makhubu in the Times of Swaziland. While the Manzini Wanderers won the first MTN league trophy, the Mbabane Swallows are the current reigning champions.

MTN FOUNDATION In addition to football sponsorship, MTN Swaziland have also encouraged public-private cooperation by donating three LG computers, printers and an internet dongle to Emhlangeni Primary School as part of the 21 Days of Y’ello Care campaign. This foundation was set up by MTN to give something back to each nation it operates in. For 21 days in the calendar year, MTN employees leave their normal work duties to help and get involved in community projects and areas where extra help is needed. MTN Swaziland also donated hygiene packs to 500 pupils at the Emhlangeni School and vegetable seeds to encourage its gardening project. In 2010, MTN were awarded The Most Socially Responsible Company in a study conducted by First Principles for its inspirational community campaigns. Secure investment in education in Swaziland is continually needed so philanthropic projects such as these, create a real community feel and continued customer support in MTN SA and MTN Swaziland. Bulbulia explains the importance of maintaining this community feel and support to ensure the company’s subscriber base grows and continues to attract more customers. “Expansion is a core element of what we do but it is not just about the numbers. MTN is committed to giving back to the communities in which it operates. To this end, the work it is doing through the MTN SA Foundation

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company profile has become an integral component to the success (and expansion) of the organisation. “Furthermore, we take great pride in developing innovative services and solutions for both our business and consumer customers that reflect their unique needs as well as the markets in which they live. This local understanding is interwoven into our corporate DNA.” Bulbulia concludes in explaining the importance of MTN employees in its Foundation campaigns. “We believe that sharing the accomplishments of the organisation with its people is a fundamental part of the success of MTN. It serves to provide further impetus for employees to work hard, work with passion, and give back to the communities through our Foundation initiatives.”

FURTHER INNOVATION Being a highly innovative company, MTN surrounds itself with innovation and partner company Mobile Decisioning Africa (Mo-de) has provided just that. Mo-de provide mobile value added services to mobile network operators, like MTN. The company currently operates in 13 countries in Africa, launched only in 2010, Mo-de has already been awarded the IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 and was listed as one of the 2013 finalist for the African Awards for Entrepreneurship under the Outstanding and Mature Business Award category among other companies To help relieve the worry of running out of mobile credit, MTN Swaziland have introduced MTN Xtra Time. This allows existing pay-as-you-go customers the

option of an advance on their existing airtime before it runs out. Customers select an airtime amount, from E5 up to E50, by sending through a short USSD code which is then paid back when they next top up. This innovative service is a by-product of the collaboration between MTN and Mo-de and was awarded ‘Most Innovative Service’ at the 2013 AfricaCom Awards.

AN EXCITING FUTURE FOR MTN Looking to the future, the South African government have prioritised broadband access, saying in its 2014 manifesto: “We aim to connect all schools, public health and other government facilities through broadband by 2020, and at least 90% of our communities should have substantial and superfast broadband capacity by 2020. Government will support and develop free-Wi-Fi areas in cities, towns and rural areas. The local electronics sector and emerging entrepreneurs will be stimulated as part of our efforts to support the manufacturing industry.” Bulbulia explains the benefits of the government’s proposed plans and how they will benefit MTN in years to come. “We are working with stakeholders in both private and public sectors to ensure that the connectivity requirements of all the citizens are met. In addition to developing cost-effective voice and data solutions, MTN is continuously upgrading its network to stay ahead of technology trends. For example, our ongoing efforts to roll out LTE while simultaneously improving 2G, 3G, and HSPA access is indicative of this passion and commitment to provide universal broadband access for all.”


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