The liberalization of Rwanda’s telecoms sector started in earnest ten years ago. Early this year saw the Tigo brand entering the sector as the licensed third national operator. In just less than seven months, Tigo Rwanda managed to attract over 500,000 subscribers into its network. The results released by market regulator, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), indicated that during this period Rwanda’s teledensity, grew by 20 percent attributing this huge growth to levelling of the playing field within the telecoms industry. David Kezio-Musoke spoke to Aleman Mercelo CEO of Tigo Rwanda on the emerging trends within Rwanda’s telecoms industry. Below are the
According to RURA statistics Tigo Rwanda recently surpassed Rwandatel as the second most subscribed after MTN. How did you achieve this?
This is due to hard work but above all due to the Team. Tigo has a very competitive team with people that are strongly committed and passionate about what we do and how we do it. Without a highly motivated team, none of this would’ve been possible.
We have a very well balanced group of professionals; with Rwandans and foreigners with proven professional expertise in telecommunications. Our team is boosted with a large amount of experience from other Tigo operations across the world. This is the model Millicom has deployed in Africa bringing in expertise and knowledge from other operations to leverage and develop local skills to its maximum.
You did not only attract more than 500,000 subscribers, but also achieved this in less than a year. This is something to reckon.
Tigo Rwanda is a fast growing company fully committed to its vision of providing affordable, accessible and available services to all Rwandans. We are making significant investments not only in infrastructure but also in developing local talent and we are very pleased with what we have achieved so far. We still have a lot to do and we will keep on investing and growing coverage and capacity to provide access to affordable communication to people from all parts of Rwanda.
The market is very competitive what are you doing to consolidate those numbers?
As you have noticed, in less than a year we have numbers we are proud of. We have introduced affordable products that have dynamized the industry, the economy and the society. We have introduced innovative yet affordable products and services for the people.
But we are not the only players and we have strong and aggressive competitors as well. We expect customer intake to continue being volatile, due to variable factors including the macro environment, seasonality, SIM card registration and competitor promotions. However as you might have seen already our marketing is one of the most dynamic, joyful and clean with some of the most interesting marketing activities ever seen in Rwanda. We are also driven by innovation and our technological advances put us in a pole position.
In Rwanda in less than a year we have deployed a robust GSM network, a very solid 3G network, an electronic distribution system of airtime and many other things that have made Rwanda one of the more advanced countries in terms of mobile technology.
Some of the subscribers you have attracted might not necessarily be using mobile telephony for the first time but have been wooed from your competitors. What is Tigo Rwanda doing to attract more ‘first time’ users?
I won’t go into details of Tigo’s strategies but as you know telecoms is a very dynamic industry and the competitive environment is not a situation unique to Rwanda. You need to open up a bit to force all operators to work harder to attract new customers.
There has been a perception that mobile voice services in Africa are nearing saturation. However, as you saw from the RURA figures, in a space of just four months there was more than a 20 percent increase in mobile customers in the country . Rwanda is an emerging market and is seeking to have at least 6 million subscribers by 2012. Tigo Rwanda is definitely part of that vision and our investments are showing our commitment and support to achieve this goal.
We are committed to our strategy of providing a reliable network. Our products and services are affordable and we are working very hard to make sure they are accessible to all Rwandans with state of the art technology.