Driving innovation, Affordability and Service
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Airtel’s operations in Seychelles represent a significant number of Airtel and industry firsts. As the first venture into Africa 16 years ago, the Company has experienced double-digit growth year-on-year even through tough economic times. Witnessing vast technological improvements and an ever-increasing mobile penetration rate - which currently stands at well over 150 percent - Airtel Seychelles has taken advantage of industry trends and quickly adopted 4G, becoming both the first 4G African venture for Bharti Airtel Group, and the first commercial LTE network in the country. “The service is a state-of-the-art network based on FDD-LTE, making Seychelles among the first countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to commercially deploy this cutting-edge technology,” reasons Managing Director, Amadou Mahamat Dina.
Phase one of the 4G network rollout covered 10,000 LTE subscribers and this month the second phase was completed; Amadou Dina further details: “Initially, 4G coverage was available in urbanised and key areas of the country; available in corporate offices and the airport for example. As of May 2015, we have added 15 additional sites in phase two of the project.”
By the end of the year, Airtel Seychelles hopes to provide 70-80 percent of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue with high-speed 4G technology. “The 4G network was launched by the Vice President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, which demonstrates just how deeply rooted and valued the Airtel brand is in Seychelles. Mobile data usage has currently only reached 25 percent in the country therefore, the market holds amply opportunity for Airtel to grow,” he adds.
Similarly, 3.75G has been rolled out over a large proportion of the country and its islands, with six more sites planned for Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. “Our long-term goal is to achieve the same quality of service, wherever you are in Seychelles, and the government has been very supportive throughout these milestones,” summarised Amadou Dina.
High level of service
With telecoms being one of Seychelles’ biggest growth sectors and a substantial GDP contributor, Airtel worked hard to rollout fibre optic across the island in November last year and the Group proudly invests 100 million rupees back into the development of the business in each country every year. “This is so that wherever our customers go, they will receive the same high quality service and connectivity levels,” explains Amadou Dina.
Supported by one of Africa’s largest telecom companies in terms of geographies, Airtel Seychelles is driven by both Group strategies and an individually tailored approach specific to the country’s 115-island structure. “Working for a globally recognised company places us in good stead when it comes to industry challenges. The in-depth knowledge of that the Group has of Africa’s telecom market allows us to focus on the positives and get excited about what the future holds,” says Amadou Dina.
By adopting a local strategy to meet local customer needs, Amadou Dina says that the Company is on its way to becoming the best smart city in Africa: “We are in the top three i-city African nations and strive to provide a high quality of IT communication and associated infrastructures not just in urban areas, but eventually across each island.”
Affordability and quality of service are the two cornerstones of Airtel Seychelles’ operation, and in order to provide this, the Company is proud to bring only the best technologies to the unique island nation.
The game-changing platform, Airtel Money has brought financial inclusion to millions across the African continent, and Airtel was the first telecom operator to introduce this life-changing service to the Seychellois public. “Given that more than 50 percent of Seychellois are banked, this, combined with the high mobile penetration rate of 150+ percent has guaranteed rapid uptake and has brought financial inclusion services to great heights which we are extremely proud of,” emphasises Amadou Dina.
Alongside this, the launch of Airtel Premier last year has pioneered exclusivity and inclusion in the telecom market for loyal Airtel customers. Those subscribed to Airtel Premier receive priority treatment from the Company and have access to the latest and greatest services as Amadou Dina details: “Airtel Premier is for customers who have been with us for a long time and expect the best service.
The Premier customer is fast tracked through any interaction with the company, with priority routing on services on the network plus the ability to earn loyalty rewards in terms of offerings like Priority Pass; a service that allows our customers to access more than 600 airport lounges in more than 120 countries worldwide.
“So far, we have received positive feedback in terms of our level of service and will continue to invest in Airtel Premier going forward, adding more destinations abroad to extend this VIP treatment.”
In terms of staff who represent the face of the Company, Airtel Seychelles is able to mitigate the country-wide skill shortage via its access to the wider Group’s resources, including secondment programmes and the Airtel Academy facilities. “We always aim to hire and train local people, from those unskilled to local graduates. One aspect that is vital to us is encouraging those who left the country in search of work to return to Seychelles and receive training under the Airtel umbrella.
“Additionally, skills transfer across our secondment programme is designed to teach staff about Airtel operations in larger countries and is a valuable tried and tested programme across the Group,” Amadou Dina details.
Every aspect of Airtel Seychelles ensures that the public receive the best level of service possible and this ethos extends into its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in the community. “On average, we complete two or three CSR activities every month that tackle every aspect of the community; education, healthcare, sport, environment, music and so on.
“We want every single citizen to feel Airtel is part of their DNA,” asserts Amadou Dina.
All of the above factors demonstrate just how far Airtel Seychelles has come since entering the country 16 years ago. Amadou Dina concludes: “By the middle of 2015, our focus will be on the completion of our fibre network and we are currently 300 kilometres away from completion. The main goal for us is to drive exclusivity: we want customers to get the best service from all things technology-related. This will include moving into the television space to overhaul the limited services available in the country.
“Our high level of innovation, emphasis on customer experience and inclusive technology will ensure we remain ahead of the competition, and our products are carefully designed so that when customers try us, they stay with us for life.”