MTN’S Road to offering Sustainable Business in Kenya

Globally, companies are increasingly dependent on digital technology, using technological tools more intensively in all aspects of their daily routine. Against this backdrop, technology companies are slowly positioning themselves to compete in this emerging data market segment especially with the growth of cloud computing and data hosting services. MTN Business Kenya seeks to curve a niche in the business connectivity solutions market. The South African based-firm offers network services, cloud solutions, voice and Data Centre services to the financial services sector, telecommunication companies, government, corporate sector and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Proficient with a knack for investment and a technology personality, with over 20 solid years’ experience in ICT is Mr. Kennedy Chinganya, the Managing Director for MTN Business Kenya. His belief in integrity and self-drive towards achieving goals depicts an epitome of servant leadership. Corporate Watch Magazine explores MTN Business Kenya as we engage one-on-one with Mr. Chinganya as he opens up on his vision for MTN, as well as the outlook of the Telecommunications sector in Kenya.

 

Q. What is the core emphasis that MTN is targeting in the Kenyan market and how have you positioned yourself for growth?
MTN in Kenya currently focuses on Enterprise solution because we are futuristic. We project future disruptions and we have aligned our approaches accordingly to help businesses optimize their potential. MTN Group acquired Verizon South Africa way back in 2009, and by extension this acquisition included UUNET a Kenyan company providing broadband Internet. Verizon SA acquisition was aimed at enhancing MTN’s product offering to reach our diverse customers and strengthen our Enterprise Value proposition across our footprint in Africa and Middle East.In 2010, we rebranded UUNET a Kenyan company providing broadband Internet, to MTN Business Kenya Ltd to provide world-class solutions with our core objective of becoming an ICT Partner of choice for the region to Large, Small and Medium Enterprises, Public/Private sector and Multi National corporation.

Q. Aside from connectivity, what other product lining does MTN Business Kenya offer in the Telecommunications market?
As MTN Kenya today, our Data Centre services are quite a big thing that we are offering, over and above the connectivity. Key however, to note that MTN dedicated internet delivers secure connections that are permanently and exclusively available for use. Traffic is carried over the MTN IP backbone network which is one of the most rigorously engineered networks in the world.
Our product catalogue other than MTN dedicated internet include, MTN Data Centre, Managed Backup, Virtual Server (IaaS), Disaster Recovery (DR), Microsoft O365 and Voice & Hosted PABX.

Q. Among the services you have pointed out. Which among them do your clients mostly request?
Cloud services are starting to become a big thing. If we look at the market right now, companies are actually moving away from investing into IT Capital expenditure because that is not their core business, we are seeing more and more outsourcing of the non-core business and IT is no exception. As part of cloud services, we offer virtualized computing resources (Servers) that easily scales with your requirements, Infrastructure as a Service-IaaS. Some benefits of IaaS include cost effective, meaning pay for what you need now, faster delivery, ease of growth and upgrades, no hardware management or replacement overheads and secure environment support by MTN.

Q. What is your take on the current Telco landscape in Kenya? What trends are in the market at the moment?
The Telco arena more specifically the Cellular GSM, is no brainer, we all know what’s happening in that space, and how the regulator is trying to level the playing field as it has been skewed for a while. But when you look at the enterprise space, the market is quite open and ready, and not only are we looking at the big tier one MNO players to provide Enterprise solutions, there is lots of solutions the Tier 2 players can take to the market to address ICT gaps. The tier two landscape is becoming very interesting, where all players are coming up with so called emerging technologies, but the big question is – is that what the customers are looking for? Probably not. It is not about trends, it’s about addressing the needs of the customer. In as much as the landscape is competitive, I think the messaging is not yet right, we are not talking to the right sectors to address the right needs for them. At the moment, there is too much noise, but I think we need to pull back as Service providers and ask ourselves what ICT pain points are we addressing to deliver value to the consumer of the service.

Q. In 2017 MTN Business Kenya launched a Tier III Data Centre in Nairobi. Shed more light on this.
Last year we launched tier III carrier natural data center to ensure our customers are enjoying affordable and reliable services. The Data Center was built by an uptime Institute certified designer. Our customers using our Data center can achieve optimal performance and higher availability on their server infrastructure (Dual power & cooling).

Q. MTN Business Kenya announced a service dubbed “SMEasy” Why the focus on SME’s?
80% of SME’s do not see their first birthdays, this is because they do not have the right tools to be able to manage their start up organizations, so we have introduced “MTN Easy Accounting Solution” a cloud-based accounting tool specifically designed to simplify business management and accounting for start-ups who have little or no accounting skills

Q. What are some of your greatest achievement since you started operations in Kenya?
The greatest achievement I can say is putting up a tier 3 data center and revamping our entire core network. This demonstrated to our customers that we have vested interest to secure their environment as their trusted IT service provider In MTN people are our greatest asset, in the last 2 years we have really managed to secure the right people that understand our customer needs.

Q. With technology as the next frontier, how have you positioned yourself to remain relevant in this competitive market?
If you look at MTN Business today, backed by our extensive Group footprint in 25 countries across the Middle East, Europe and Africa plus our massive investment in the undersea cables, that in itself gives us an upper hand. With the growing competitive landscape, every day we see new players coming on board, we decided to differentiate ourselves with the Tier III data centre. Strategic partnerships and alliances are an important component of non-organic growth. We have key partners like Microsoft, Cisco who have journeyed with us to ensure our success.

Q. Is the future in voice or Data?
Definitely data. We have been in the voice business as MTN for over 20 years and I can say we have been champions, having gone to markets that few have dared to; Yemen, Syria, Iran, Liberia, South Sudan just to name a few and we have been successful. And the main success in this has been on voice for the last 20 plus years. But we all know that voice margins are shrinking as more people are consuming data. Tech disruptors like WhatsApp, Telegram, Vibe and even Skype are taking over that space.

Q. What are some of the challenges you are currently experiencing in the Telco market?
There are a lot of inhibitors to adoption of IT, which unfortunately affect efficiency. Cyber security and cost are some of the inhibitors. Transparency on how business is transacted is another challenge. There are huge opportunities out there, but how transparent is it to get that opportunity. There are lots of IT service providers with the right solution to address the right customer IT pain points. The challenge is accessing the right people who make the decisions on IT that delivers value.

Q. How best can broadband be deployed nationally to ensure universal access?
The cost of data is still very high; most of the connectivity is still high. The players are trying to make money but what they are forgetting is that there is a massive opportunity out there with unconnected citizens.
I would say that one way to make it affordable is to drop the data / connectivity charges and drive to get masses to ensure a big reach and yield.

Q. Who is Kennedy and how did you find yourself at MTN Business?
I am the current Managing Director for MTN Business Kenya Limited, I joined MTN Business in April 2015 in MTN Group Enterprise in Johannesburg South Africa, and moved to Kenya to take my current role in January 2016. Prior to joining MTN, I worked with IBM for 14 years and another 5 years with Microsoft South Africa.  I am a Certified Chartered Accountant, and a member of The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA UK) and South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA).

Q. Has your experience in the Tech space shaped how MTN is today?
Success is where the result is. Let us not talk about success when you cannot see tangible results. It’s like we have put in this Data Center here in Nairobi. What is the success criterion in that, how has it benefited companies sitting in this environment? If we see and measure that, that is success.

Q. What is your biggest lesson so far in business?
We need to be innovative constantly. We cannot sit in a space, which is highly competitive, and expect to hear new tends from other players and hope to copy and paste. We always have to embrace the “first -mover advantage” kind of an attitude. At MTN, constant innovation is key. In addition, the value of business corporate social responsibility (CSR) in creating sustainable business environments cannot be underestimated. MTN runs an annual employee volunteerism programme, dubbed 21 Days of Y’ello Care every month of June taking part in various activities to impact the lives of the communities around them. This year, MTN Business Kenya revamped a computer lab, provided free internet connection and installed a bio-digester toilet, to improve sanitation as well as produce biogas for use at Mukuru Skills Training Centre. The highlight of this year’s programme, however, was the Global Y’ello Career Day held across 19 of MTN’s operating companies. The career day was the perfect way to end a successful 21 days of employee volunteerism, with the company joining forces with public and private sector entities

Q. Finally, where should we expect to see MTN Business in the next five years?
As MTN Business, we don’t want to look at it as operations within the borders of Kenya, but an organization that seeks to provide ICT across the region, ICT partner of choice for the region. When you look at where we are today, most of the companies are starting to spread their roots across the region, and when they do that they will require ICT services in the markets they are going into, and we always embrace this kind of partnerships as we growth when they grow and expand.

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