A lot has happened lately on the business front with the most significant of all being the budget reading. The beauty of the budget reading is that it is one of the few moments we feel East Africans since the event happens on the same date in all the EAC countries.
This year’s budget reading found me in Kampala, where (like elsewhere in the region) the “wananchi” were rubbing their hands in anticipation of strategies aimed at curbing the skyrocketing cost of living. Very little was announced in this area since the current high inflation in the region stems from multiple factors most which are external.
However, a simple and clear remedy lies in increasing agriculture production to bring down food prices as well as cutting production costs, especially transport. East Africa urgently needs a functioning oil pipeline and a good railway network to curb the costs incurred in transportation of goods.
I still need to study all the budget proposals of all the East African countries before I can give a better analysis.
Away from the budget I wish to discuss the current competition in Rwanda’s telecom market.
Even before Rwandatel’s GSM licence was cancelled the competition in the telecom scene was largely between MTN Rwanda and Tigo Rwanda. With a two horse race the stakes are much higher. The employees charged with developing new marketing concepts are busier, always on the lookout for a new concept that will keep them in the race and ahead of their main rival.
Promotions that used to last for months are now limited to just one month before new ones come up. The promotions have not only increased in frequency but also in complexity, something that is rather unfortunate. While MTN Rwanda and Tigo Rwanda try to outcompete each other on both voice and data platforms, the promotions they are offering their clients are becoming not just many but a little difficult to understand.
Take for example; the recent data packages for those who want to use the internet. MTN came up with one allowing customers to pay for internet usage for a day, week or month at a cheaper rate. Tigo has also unleashed its version to match their bitter rival.
The offers are quite good and customers stand to benefit. Moreover customers need to clearly understand the dynamics of the promotion. I am suspecting some of these campaigns to be confusing because I have met a good number of people who do not even know how to activate internet settings on their phones.
If you look at the newspaper adverts for these promotions or the text messages they are sending the customers, you can tell that a lot of information is being supplied and more explanations may be needed by some customers.
Marketing experts will tell you that the one of the reasons why Rwandatel lost the competition at an early stage was because it put out several promotions that were often confusing to the customers. Their billboards often had so much information that left their customers confused.
The ‘surviving’ telecoms should steer clear of this trap by making sure that each campaign is easy to understand and enough time is allowed for the customers to get their way around the campaign and embrace it. I believe clarity and simplicity are the best strategies for marketing.