Tigo in new push to ease access to internet services across country

Tigo Rwanda makes five years of operations this year. The telecom firm that has been dominant in the data and mobile money transfer services looks to strengthen its presence going forward. Last month, for instance, it unveiled a new brand tagline: “Live it. Love it”.
Maramba says the telecom seeks to ensure Rwandans access internet services to improve their standards of living. (Ben Gasore)
Maramba says the telecom seeks to ensure Rwandans access internet services to improve their standards of living. (Ben Gasore)

Tigo  Rwanda makes five years of operations this year. The telecom firm that has been dominant in the data and mobile money transfer services looks to strengthen its presence going forward. Last month, for instance, it unveiled a new brand tagline: “Live it. Love it”. The telecom firm also launched a new campaign that aims at promoting Internet penetration in Rwanda and the use of mobile financial services, enabling clients to live ‘a digital lifestyle’.

Business Times’ Ben Gasore caught up with Tongai Maramba, the Tigo Rwanda general manager, who spoke about the local telecom market, and how the new campaign will help address some of the challenges the sector faces, among other. Excerpts:

Tell us about the new campaign and the Tigo’s digital push.

As a brand for ambitious young people who believe in dreaming big, working hard, and in so doing achieving great things, we are committing ourselves to take their ambitions to another level by easing access to the Internet.  Our product portfolio will be focused on this group, while our sales channels and support will be designed purposely for them, and the entire system will be reoriented toward this new and exciting emerging digital class.

Why is Tigo restaging its brand?

We are a consumer-driven business, so we have to continually evolve and be innovate to serve consumers better; the brand restage is part of the evolution. When Tigo launched in Rwanda, mobile penetration was at only 20 per cent.

With our tagline of “Express yourself” at the time, we aimed to ‘democratise’ communication and, today, mobile penetration stands at over 70 per cent. There is a growing optimism and ambition, especially among young people in Africa, and particularly here in Rwanda.

People have big dreams for themselves and their families, and they are increasingly seeing the Internet as one of the key enablers for self-development, staying in touch, doing business, and generally making life simpler and entertainment.

It is and will always be an Internet world, and so we want to help consumers achieve their expectations besides democratising Internet use in Rwanda. In the process, we deliver experiences worth living and loving.

How will the new brand strategy benefit clients?

Our goal is to inspire, motivate, and help customers dream, work hard, and achieve their goals. We offer a refreshed experience and range of digital products and services that enable people to build and celebrate a life of achievement. Consider Tigo as a friend, who guides you through today’s digital world to help you achieve your dreams.

How is Tigo fairing in the market presently?

Our digital services are growing in popularity, and we are in a good position in the market in both subscriber and revenue growth. Our market share in the voice segment has now hit 35 per cent, but we have bigger market share in the Internet and mobile financial services. We are the market leaders in the mobile money transfer services market with Tigo Cash, and in segment data, we are the number one Internet service provider for Facebook users.

What is driving the surge?

Our commitment to Rwanda drives whatever we do. This has seen us invest over $390 million (about Rwf263 billion) in the country in the last five years.

Our success is underlined by the strong focus on consumers, innovative culture, and are empowered and inspired staff. As a result, we have recorded a number of ‘firsts’, including responding to clients’ need for high speed Internet, by being the first to introduce a 3G network in Rwanda. We were also the first telecom to introduce cross-border transfer on mobile wallets, and providing wireless Internet on public buses and in public spaces such as Kigali City Tower. We also offer a mobile savings product called the Tigo Sugira.

Internet penetration is still low in Rwanda, what can be done to increase uptake?

Internet penetration is at 31 per cent presently, and still growing. The barriers that exist across most African countries are essentially the same as in Rwanda, like affordability of devices and relevant local content. In the next few days, we are going to be announcing a scheme that aims to make devices more affordable to the average consumer, in the process contributing to the government’s commitment to make Internet accessible anywhere in the country.

You said Tigo leads in digital innovation, how is it enabling financial inclusion in Rwanda?

Over 40 per cent of Tigo customers are active users of Tigo Cash. We actually welcomed our one-millionth active customer on the platform a week ago.

In addition, the Tigo Matic is the first automated teller machine for Tigo Cash transactions and a great example of innovation in self-service. Other innovations include Tigo Sugira, which offers the best rate on the market for a savings account, being the first in accepting e-government payments, thanks to the partnership between Tigo and Rwanda Online Platform. Remember, we launched the world first cross-border mobile money transfer service with currency conversion integrated last year (between Rwanda and Tanzania).

And, the recent acquisition of RSwitch by our parent company underscores our commitment to creating a joint ecosystem with a number of financial institutions. Tigo customers access their bank accounts using their mobile phones, which is another example of the digital lifestyle.

What else can we expect from Tigo in the short-term?

Expect a suit of innovative products and services that enable consumers to experience our new brand tagline: Live it. Love it.

 

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