8 Mar 2012

Tiemoko Coulibaly to share Airtel Africa's strategy in Francophone markets at West & Central Africa Com

Tiemoko Coulibaly, CEO for the Francophone Africa Region at Bharti Airtel, has confirmed his participation to the West & Central Africa Com event taking place in Dakar, Senegal in June.
He will share his views of Airtel's strategy in the region, and of how developments in the market are affecting business models and opportunities. When we met at Mobile World Congress last week, Tiemoko said that the last year had been focused on implementing the strategy planned by Airtel when it acquired Zain Africa in 2010. He refuted that Airtel had engaged in a price war to increase its position in its markets, saying that such comments were extrapolated from the situation in Kenya; indeed in Francophone markets such as Gabon, DRC and Chad, the company brought its tariffs down to the existing market's level. Challenges in the region remain unchanged: building infrastructure, power provision, and finding and keeping talent. However Tiemoko believes that the economic environment is positive, which should increase customer spending and in turn penetration. To reinforce Airtel's position in the region, Tiemoko will focus on key strategic points: continuing the launch of 3G across the region, developing strategic partnerships, and launching attractive services such as Airtel Money.
Tiemoko Coulibaly is a key figure in Africa's communications and wider business market, with more than 22 years’ experience in marketing, sales and general management. He became Chief Executive Officer of the Francophone Africa region following the acquisition of Zain Africa by the Bharti Group in June 2010. He also serves as a board member of Airtel within Africa. Prior to the acquisition, he was the Chief Operating Officer of Zain Africa’s Francophone countries from March 2006, overseeing seven operations in Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Madagascar, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger. In his role as COO, he provided strategic direction and operational guidance to the Francophone region, contributing in strengthening market position in the operating companies of the region, despite aggressive competitive attacks. Prior to his role as COO, he was the Group Marketing Director - Operations of Celtel International B.V., based in the Netherlands.
At West & Central Africa Com, he will be joined by representatives of other major players in the region's market such as Orange, MTN, Google, Expresso Telecom, Millicom, Etisalat. The event is sponsored by Sonatel Orange, ACE Consortium, O3B Networks, Telecom Italia Sparkle, Corning and BICS.

5 Mar 2012

Is 2012 the year when the smartphone market will take off in Africa?

The latest smartphones and devices where as usual major subjects of discussion at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. But there was a difference this year: emerging markets were much more present in the conversations, and Africa featured in a way that hasn't really been heard before.

Improved internet connections in Africa have vastly improved in the last few years, thanks to investment in network and infrastructure developments. Now the next step is for consumers to access it with affordable and reliable devices, and smartphones are the primary device tool for internet access in the region. Manufacturers and operators seem to embrace the fact that Africa is ready for a shift in its market, and that now is the time to develop the right strategies if they don't want to be left behind.

There are some strong signs that 2012 is the year where device strategies will play a crucial role in expanding Africa’s telecoms, media and ICT market. The whole digital ecosystem is playing a part in the development of device strategies:
- international manufacturers are launching low-cost smartphones answering the needs of the market: Nokia is still dominating the handset market boosting its emerging markets strategy with more attractive low-cost smartphones, Blackberry remains a strong brand in the business community, and all major manufacturers (Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, LG, HTC, Motorola) have launched or announced low-costs smartphones targeted to emerging markets
- African entrepreneurs such as VMK in Congo are entering the market by developing tablets locally
- operators are launching device strategies as a way to boost mobile data usage and therefore revenues;
- developers and content providers are making the most of the smarpthone opportunities to launch innovative services for the local market.

AfricaCom 2012 (Cape Town, SA, 13-15 November) is reflecting this key market trend with a new keynote session on Handset & Device Strategies for African Markets. The session will be held in the opening keynote session and will give handset manufacturers an opportunity to give brief presentations before joining a panel discussion with leading operators to discuss strategies to develop the mobile device market in Africa. The panellists will discuss the requirements to offer a suitable range of devices including low-cost handsets, smartphones and tablets, as well as which platforms will be most successful in Africa and for what segments. In addition, the AfricaCom programme will include other sessions where devices will be discussed: mobile content, AfricApps (addressing developers’ needs), enterprise ICT Africa.