Setting sights on Africa
Globally, the telecoms industry has been facing rough trading conditions, but Africa seems to be growing from strength to strength.
Writer Ian Armitage
Project manager James Mitchell
Ericsson, the world's biggest maker of mobile phone equipment, is playing a key role in Africa's development. The continent's telecommunications market continues to appeal, with coverage and affordable devices becoming less of an issue. The market is full of potential; African operators continue to intensify their efforts to monetise 3G and other data networks and LTE offerings are becoming mainstream, while rural connectivity continues to improve at pace and mobile banking takes off. Communication, remember, is a universal need. This, alongside evolving user demands and rapid developments in technology, is driving continued growth in the global telecommunications industry.
Ericsson has struggled in recent years as customers have held back on investing in mobile phone networks. Globally, the telecoms industry has been facing rough trading conditions, but Africa seems to be growing from strength to strength. In a recent interview, Fredrik Jejdling, the new head of Ericsson in Sub-Saharan Africa, acknowledged Africa's allure and said data was going to be a huge part of Africa's mobile story. "I have worked in the Indian market as the regional head for the past three years and I have learnt that mobility is a prerequisite for inclusive growth. Mobile data and broadband will be far reaching voice revolution. The funny thing is that the same pattern in emerging markets as with developed markets with regards to internet usage.
"Between 2000-2009 ICT investments [accounted] for 30 to 60 percent of the GDP growth in many European Union countries," he added. "Africa has many possibilities for internet access and surrounding services; the mobile revolution is moving much faster in Africa than in the EU."
A few key factors distinguish demand on the African continent: a young population; limited fixed infrastructure at less than two percent fixed penetration; and the potential as a lagging adopter to embrace best practice and leapfrog mistakes of more mature markets.
Set for success?
Ericsson can see the opportunity and Fredrik Jejdling has come in to share some of the experience, broader knowledge and wisdom he gained while leading the company's operations in India. He is looking to replicate his success in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region now facing exciting development. He will be responsible extending Ericsson's footprint in Africa where Ericsson has taken the world's largest multi-country managed services deal. Ericsson is also aggressive in 4G / LTE deals in Africa.
"Under Fredrik's leadership Ericsson has extended its strong position as the partner of choice for operators set to capture market opportunities as India continues its strong mobile data development," said Ericsson's President and CEO Hans Vestberg. "Sub-Saharan Africa is now facing similar exciting developments and Fredrik will bring his broad experience to further develop Ericsson's offering and support to the region."
Prior to taking on the role as Head of Region India in June 2011, Jejdling held several key positions in Ericsson including Head of Engagement Practices with responsibility for customer engagements within the region India (from August 2010 untill end of May 2011). Between April 2008 and July 2010, he was Head of Sales & Finance, Business Unit Global Services.
He succeeded Lars Lindén, a key figure in extending Ericsson's footprint in the region. "With a vast experience and strong business acumen Lars has been instrumental in the work to extend Ericsson's footprint in the region," Hans Vestberg added.
"During the past years Ericsson has for instance taken the world's largest multi-country managed services deal, been part of introducing LT E to several key markets in Africa as well as signing the first multi-country m-commerce deal."
In April, Business Sweden, Ericsson and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced a strategic partnership for a two-year ICT venture in Sub-Saharan Africa with special interest in Ghana The programme aims to share knowledge, increase collaboration and trade between key countries and Sweden in order to strengthen the African ICT sector, a statement said. According to the Swedish Ambassador to Ghana, Svante Kilander, Sweden is a strong partner to Africa through institutional corporations, and Swedish organisations have large presence in Africa and are seeking to use ICT as a key area of collaboration.
"Sweden and Africa have strong and historical ties; we see the new modern Africa taking shape and growing. Sweden is, and will continue to be, a solid partner in African developments." A joint report by the World Bank and the African Development Bank recently confirmed how ICT is transforming businesses and driving entrepreneurship and economic growth in the region, while enabling access to education, healthcare, employment and information that helps ordinary citizens improve their quality of life.
The Head of Ericsson Ghana, Andreas Karlsson, said, "This partnership serves as a platform for various stakeholders in the ICT Community in Ghana to meet and collaborate cross-industry to realize this growth potential in an effective and efficient way. Ericsson's leading role in technology and service leadership throughout Africa and globally gives us the competence, knowledge and experience to drive and participate in this growth for Ghana."
Olov Hemstrom, Business Sweden's Area Coordinator for Sub- Saharan Africa, added: "We are very happy to enter this partnership together with the Foreign Ministry and Ericsson; through this programme, we wish to contribute to establishing and showcasing Swedish competence and leading ICT companies to partner up with African companies to support the African growth further. We believe this will be of great benefit for both Sweden and Sub-Saharan Africa."
The future looks bright for Ericsson which recently announced that it made 1.5 billion Swedish Krona in the second quarter up 26 percent on the same period in 2012.
To learn more visit www.ericsson.com.