CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year 2014 and Managing Director of Airtel Ghana, Lucy Quist, has described Ghana as the most competitive telecoms market in Africa and even beyond.
Her observation follows statistics that with a population of 25 million people, the telecom market share is being controlled by six operators, a 4G LTE operator and ISPs which by any standard makes it an extremely competitive market.
The Airtel MD made these remarks when she caught up exclusively with MarcoPolis.net, a leading international online publishing company headquartered in Paris, France which is also connected to the BBC. (Refer To http://www.marcopolis.net/airtel-ghana-at-the-forefront-of-ghana-s-digital-innovation-and-transformation.htm)
According to her, it has been a very healthy competition so far which has served the interest of customers really well.
She said Airtel being the third largest telecommunications company in the world, has the widest coverage in Africa with presence in 17 countries both Anglophone and francophone which meant that Airtel had a strong foothold on the African continent.
“We have one of the highest mobile penetrations globally, at about 120% currently for voice. Data penetration is about half of that. It means that on the telecommunications journey, we have an accelerated market where almost any Ghanaian who really wants to have a phone actually does have one. The great thing about this journey is that Ghana has produced some great telecommunications professionals.
…The industry is over two decades old so you have competition and international knowhow. High penetration and competition means that to succeed in the industry, you have to be adept at what you do. We have Ghanaians who have been participants in the industry for a very long time to the point that most of the telecoms sector in Ghana is actually run, even at the most senior level, by Ghanaians and we are extremely proud of that,” the Airtel MD emphasized.
Touching on digital transformation, she said she wants Airtel to remain the industry leader as it continues to transform the digital age of Ghana through high tech innovations.
“Certainly from a digital service point of view, what we are increasingly seeing is that digital is now an end to end story, it is not just about providing megabytes or gigabytes, it’s not just about providing a great, inspiring post to make people happy, and it is not just about having a nice hashtag for people to follow. What we are doing is taking digital to the next stage so it is end to end.
…For instance we have a very clear customer services channel that is purely digital. It takes on two forms, one is through our Airtel App, which customers can download and access a bouquet of services and customer care support directly from the App. Our analysis shows for example that the highest purchases through this App tends to be airtime, data and Airtel Money related services,” she explained.
She disclosed that Airtel also provided customer service touchpoint through WhatsApp where customers log in complaints, queries and give feedbacks.
“You can even port your number through this platform because it allows customers to provide images of their identification cards. Hence porting to Airtel is really convenient. So there you have it, a little flavour of what to expect from Airtel: it is all about digital, it is all about a complete telecommunication value chain on a digital platform as opposed to a few convenient things here and there. That is the change that Airtel will be spearheading.
“Now we see data in real acceleration mode and in Ghana today, data and digital services are part of everyday life. You find small to medium enterprises running their business on their phones, on the internet – Facebook and other social media platforms.
…Indeed, we are really proud as Airtel Ghana to be the lead telecoms operator when it comes to data and digital services. That in a nutshell is the story of the telecoms industry in Ghana. Obviously most importantly our data and digital services are second to none in the country. We absolutely lead on data and digital innovation; we are the only telecom company to bring free Facebook to customers. We brought it not only as an entry point for people to connect on social media but also because we know that for many start-ups in Ghana, Facebook is the major tool to get their message out there in a cost effective way that gives them the scale only a large advertising budget can.”
She went on to add that under her leadership, Airtel was focusing on future facing technologies and initiatives leading the industry in terms of value added services and digital innovations.
“Very specifically we are the only telecommunications provider that has a segment of the business focused on high value customers through our Airtel Premier – which is not just about providing the telecommunications needs for high value customers but we go beyond their immediate needs to provide differentiated solutions with every touchpoint.
….Through Airtel Premier we have built partnerships with various banks who offer differentiated services for our high value customers and their customers benefit from our exceptional service offerings. In addition to this, we just launched the only free Wi-Fi service at the Adinkra lounge for business customers at the Kotoka International Airport where our Premier customers get access to the lounge and enjoy free access to the internet as they wait or transition in flights. We also provide offers through our loyalty partners for these customers such as discounts on airfare (with British Airways) and spa treatments. It is really about innovating differently.”
The Airtel MD indicated that from a business point of view, Airtel had a very strong growing unit called Airtel Business which was heavily focused on developing the small to medium sized businesses here in Ghana by meeting their communication, connectivity and collaborative needs.
“We have a clearly differentiated service with our award winning Airtel Money through innovations such as the Tap N Pay – a contactless payment system comparable to what you find in Europe. We are the first and only telecom company with this service in Ghana. We support this service at major merchant points such as supermarkets. We do actually have at least four different areas of very clear differentiation because at Airtel Ghana we understand that the future of telecommunications is really dependent on how we change the industry as the consumer cycle is changing.”