Interview: MTN continues African expansion

November 3, 2010 • Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

Johnny Aucamp, General Manager for Strategic Relations and Business Development in Africa

Johnny Aucamp, General Manager for Strategic Relations and Business Development in Africa, MTN Business, talked to about recent developments on the continent. What is MTN Business’s African strategy, taking into account your recent acquisition of UUNET Zambia? Are we going to see more acquisitions on the continent?

Johnny Aucamp: MTN expects to enter a very exciting phase for the next three years and our focus is not only on mobility, but creating specific ISP companies with a standardized approach to services and solutions delivery to the corporate segment. In other words, we enable African companies to reach their own A-end status and self-sufficiency. It’s a transition from B-end to A-end level. For many years South Africa has been perceived as an A-end country, the gateway to the continent, the primary contact. We want to take our developments here and convert them into a pan-African solution. We are going through a re-branding phase in Zambia at the moment, which will improve the competitiveness of Zambia’s business sector. Tell us more about the developments in Zambia?

Johnny Aucamp: The rebranding sees the integration of UUNET Zambia, acquired last year, into our MTN stable. MTN Business Zambia will offer businesses world-class telecommunication solution at competitive pricing. Although MTN Business Zambia and the mobile company MTN Zambia remain as separate entities, the synergistic relationship between the two will be tremendously beneficial, especially as IP and mobile technology head towards convergence. Should we expect any new developments on data centers?

Johnny Aucamp: We are ready to support African countries in terms of value-added services, and building new data centers will further enable this transition to A-end counties. We launched in Ghana and Nigeria and we’re busy with Uganda. As for South Africa, we see more potential for data centres. Land and space are not as available as years ago, however the demand for value-added services and broadband is rising. Is MTN Business ready to tap into the consumer market with converged communications solutions?

Johnny Aucamp: We have always been corporate-orientated, however there’s great potential in the SMEs market and the reality is that we would have to serve the public at one point. Consumers demand more data and more broadband connectivity and recent trends like Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud computing and virtualization will no longer be just buzz words on the continent. So yes, we will have to consider that, but at the moment it is not part of our strategy. There are also limitations to this kind of model. Firstly, on a corporate level, we are talking about value-added services, not just broadband. Broadband prices are not decreasing as quickly as we might expect and modems are quite expensive. The more services we can offer our clients, the less costs for them. The corporate sector is still competitive and we want to standardize these offers to local SMEs and the consumer. Africa needs connectivity and we think a pan-African type of solution would benefit the continent.

By Denisa Oosthuizen

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