Company Reports - MTN Swaziland
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Strengthening its 3G network is a key focus in MTN Swaziland’s 2013 strategy as it looks to provide improved internet services, drive up data usage revenues and increase its already impressive 800,000 subscribers.
As Swaziland’s sole mobile operator and supported by the wider MTN Group, the proactive company has almost reached saturation point in terms of its previous offerings, so it’s rolling out a range of innovative initiatives to cater for alternative markets and changing consumer demand.
“As well as increasing our M2M (Machine-to-Machine) capabilities, we are trying to grow the SIM card side of the business,” said Chief Executive Officer, Ambrose Dlamini. “Moving towards individuals having a SIM card for both their work and personal mobile phone, a tablet and a dongle for example.”
With a host of further initiatives on the cards for the rest of the year, MTN Swaziland has advanced its technological capability to support future launches including upgrading its billing processes onto a converged platform, and increasing its hardware and security resources.
Another big focus moving forward is to expand the Mobile Money service originally launched in May 2011. MTN Swaziland is currently in discussions with a number of companies and government departments to partner with them and increase the current offering for Mobile Money subscribers.
“More than 90 percent of Swaziland’s population is on pre-paid electricity, so that’s one area we are looking at supporting,” Dlamini said. “We are also working with the health and agriculture departments with the aim of having additional channels to make the service more accessible to the public.”
The Mobile Money endeavour required its own infrastructure, bringing MTN Swaziland’s total number of BTS (Base Transceiver Station) towers to 260, all of which are maintained by MTN operatives.
“MTN Group’s wider philosophy is to consider managed services, but for now we are managing it ourselves,” said the CEO. “Though we cover almost all of the country gaps do still exist, especially around the more rural areas, so that’s where we’ll put up additional sites.”
A family affair
MTN is a company which values its staff and considers them its greatest asset, devoting both time and money to their continuous development. It has recently launched the MTN-Deal, an employee-focused proposition seeking to attract and retain staff.
“The initiative has five pillars: Brand Strength, Leadership Brand, Investing in our Talent, Globally Diverse Culture, Total Reward & Recognition,” explained Dlamini. “We need to make sure we nurture our people, develop talent and continue to invest in their training and education.”
A crucial part of employee’s continuous development is regular secondment to one of MTN Group’s other operations, with 20 countries to choose from stretching from Afghanistan to South Africa. Away for anything from weeks to years, the employee in question returns with a host of skills and knowledge imperative to the region’s ongoing development.
“Having the support and experience of the wider MTN Group, such as through the MTN Academy, is hugely beneficial, but at the same time I am afforded a great deal of autonomy in making decisions and the day-to-day running,” Dlamini added.
Supporting local people
Second only to supporting its own people is MTN Swaziland’s drive to better the lives of those from local communities through its extensive corporate social responsibility programmes. The lead sponsor of the nation’s premier soccer league, division one and division two, the creation of the MTN Swaziland Foundation enabled the company to help even more people.
“We have 21 Days of Yellow Care, an initiative driven by the MTN Group, where our people go out to various communities and complete projects geared towards improving lives,” said Dlamini. “We also sponsor things like new ambulances for hospitals and cataract removal surgery for the elderly, especially those less well-off.”
Its environmental impact is also carefully considered with every new tower site assessed and approved by the Swaziland Environmental Authority, targeting only those sites which are deemed appropriate.
“We’ve recently switched on our first hybrid BTS tower powered by solar and wind energy, rather than electricity,” he said. “So far it’s working well and the plan is to roll out additional towers before long.”
With handsets sold through some of the country’s largest electrical retailers, including Shaks Cellular, E-TopUp and ROBS Electrical, MTN Swaziland is hoping for great things from the recent launch of its $12 handset, with plans for a low-cost, 3G-capable model later in the year.
“This is definitely what the market is calling for at the moment, so we are currently in discussions with Nokia to try and fulfil the growing demand,” Dlamini said. “We are always involved in consumer research to ascertain exactly what the public wants in order to remain relevant.
“Our goal for the year is to make MTN Swaziland an even better performing organisation on all fronts, customer service, financial, subscriber numbers and so on. The outlook is very bright for us, it’s an exciting time with lots happening and I think it could be our best year yet,” he concluded.