LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MENA, DUBAI: Success in North Africa relies on assessing and addressing the specific services needed for the market rather than launching everything available, Vodafone Egypt customer care director Ashraf Helal said.
In a North Africa-focused session, Helal (pictured, right) talked up the value of specialising in services aimed at the unique and varied demographics of the country.
The operator, which launched 4G services during September, provides a range of apps and services tailored to those with low levels of reading ability, and finance services aimed at the unbanked.
“Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation,” he surmised: “This has been the key to Vodafone’s business to appeal to different socio-economic classes.”
“When it comes to North Africa you need to be relevant – it’s not about bringing everything to the market – it’s about bringing what the market needs. We have a literacy challenge, disability challenge and ARPU challenge to address [in Egypt], what we’re doing is focusing.”
The executive spoke as part of a panel discussion on the challenges facing the region alongside Yves Gauthier, director general of Orange Maroc (pictured, left), and Ooredoo Algeria COO Jose Nazario (pictured, centre).
Discussing the ongoing rollout of 4G across the region, while Vodafone reported strong demand in its first weeks, Gauthier warned friendly conditions for investment needed to be in place to enable the mass deployment of new services.
“Our business begins with regulation and can end with regulation,” Gauthier said: “In Africa, some states are imposing huge taxes. It’s simple, if you pay [high] taxes you cannot invest.”
He added regulation in Morocco is pro-investment with “normal price” frequency charges: “I believe this is the right approach,” he said: “If you pay huge fees for the frequency you have to pass on the price to the customer.”
Helal added as an industry, operators should collaborate to prove the economic value of network rollouts under favourable regulatory environments, and agreed in many markets taxes and fees are too high.
In Algeria, Nazario said Oordeoo had been the subject of high regulatory costs and said he expected this to continue as a result of ongoing socio-economic issues in the country. However, he highlighted the issues also offered an opportunity for the operator to develop IoT.
“We have issues with electricity grid in the country and water treatment,” he said: “Specifically in Algeria the urban planning is something that we [IoT enablers] can help.”