The Insider: Rwanda Cell Vs RwandaTel: Telecoms Competition spills over to showbiz

The MTN Rwanda Cell’s response to RwandaTel’s onslaught within the ongoing market wars was played out well enough during its 10th anniversary celebrations on 13th December 2008. Shaggy proved that he was the master of the stage ‘shoulder high’ above the rest of them all.
Craving for more:The fans were overwhelmed  by the frenzy which Mr. ‘Boombastic’ had unleashed.
Craving for more:The fans were overwhelmed by the frenzy which Mr. ‘Boombastic’ had unleashed.

The MTN Rwanda Cell’s response to RwandaTel’s onslaught within the ongoing market wars was played out well enough during its 10th anniversary celebrations on 13th December 2008.

Shaggy proved that he was the master of the stage ‘shoulder high’ above the rest of them all.

Mr. ‘Bombastic’ brought exceptional value to the yellow brand by actually making it very clear to all and sundry including the industry  watchers that MTN is in no mood to let go of the market leadership tag within telecoms.

The result was that Kigali city was treated to a thrilling show which had all the hallmarks of a world class preparation. And it was only a ‘One Night Stand’.

As Shaggy parked up his bags to jet out the next day, one thing resonated within Rwanda’s showbiz industry-that things will never be the same again.

The ‘Bombastic’ Trickle Down

The choice of the artist was just right. Shaggy is not your average music star. He has been around the global stage for long. MTN needed such a personality.

Rwandatel had assembled such a mighty amalgam of stars that only a master MC with a well developed theatrics could actually outdo what Rwandatel had unleashed. And so an elaborate response had to be instituted.

MTN had to work hard to sway the tide which was fast rising against its brand. The first thing was the concert arrangement itself. It was staged in a different manner. Completely different from the RwandaTel launch.

The other different approach was that it was not to be tied to any direct sales. There was no carrot and stick approach. MTN held its head high confident that it would upstage RwandaTel. They were not wrong.

The response was terrific. A perfect sound and concert system did the magic. Staging a gig a distance from the fans had served as a sore deterrent to both Sean Paul and Koffi.

The MTN arrangement on the other hand brought Shaggy closer to his fans than it happened at the RwandaTel gig.

Shaggy maximised on this close proximity to his fans to work up the crowds in a way that outshined both Koffi and Sean Paul before the yes of both fans and showbiz watchers. The perfect sound system boosted Shaggy’s stage acts.

In addition Shaggy’s 2 hour non-stop show was another pointer that he is indeed a master of the musical stage. Both Koffi and Sean Paul did not manage to do a combined performance which could outlast that of Shaggy.

Only numbers favoured the RwandaTel gig. Thus Shaggy attracted crowds less in excess of 30,000 compared to the huge number which RwandaTel amassed in Amahoro Stadium which was estimated to be in excess of 50,000.

‘Shaggy is a master of the stage. His stage act left all of us craving for more. He did not have dancers but his back up singers did the trick’, a fan said.

When asked to make a comparison the fan added, ‘Both artists are great but it seems that Shaggy’s preparations was superior to that of the Sean Paul gig. The net result was there for all to see’.

Where RwandaTel had beaten MTN hands down was the excitement it had generated prior to their well publicized show.

The RwandaTel concert was a better crowd puller. By 10.00 a.m the entire City of Kigali was engulfed in a serious  party mood and thousands had packed the stadium even before lunchtime. The Shaggy concert on the other hand started filling up at 8.00 p.m.

To help bridge this gap it helped that Shaggy’s songs were more popular than Sean Paul’s. As such fans pretty sung along Shaggy as they could mime most of the songs he performed.

When he sung the ‘Redemption Song’, Bob Marley’s famed freedom song it capped the frenzy that Shaggy had worked on the fans. Another sharp contrast had to with how the planners looked at the income levels of the fans they wanted to attract.

‘The Shaggy show was a determinant of the level of one’s purchasing power. Those who had Rwf.20,000 seemed to have been pointing out that they were people of means. This was a wide contrast to the RwandaTel’s gig in which status was not considered key due to the arrangement whereby all that was needed was Rwf.1,000 standard entrance fees’, a showbiz  industry watcher said.

In conclusion the MTN show was superior in planning and logistics and as such fans got better value for the money they paid for.

On the other hand one can say that RwandaTel staged its concert with the ‘mturage’ in mind while MTN narrowed down their show to those with the purchasing power.

Contact: ojiwah@gmail.com

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