Shares, Seats, Direction, Africa Rising

The resignation of Mteto Nyati from MTN South Africa came at a time when I personally thought he just started to make progress, especially since he was executing a step-by-step strategy, aimed at getting MTN South Africa back to its rightful place in the market, and it was great to see the forward movement after some periods of instability, especially since at MTN Group level there were also a whole range of changes happening at the same time.

Well its now known news that he (Mteto) would be joining Altron, who themselves have been going and will be going through a number of changes as well as the Venter family start a new direction for the company, this on the back of some challenges Altron too had over the last period, I think Mteto would do a great job indeed at Altron.

So in steps Godfrey Motsa at MTN South Africa, after a relatively brief stint as the Vice President for South and East Africa region for MTN Group, a position I think he will enjoy as it is much more operational in nature, which after experiences in DRC and Lesotho as CEO, I am sure he wants to get going as soon as possible, its much more fun in any case in the CEO seat than VP seat at times, as you see the results of your initiatives much quicker.

But this article is not about the leadership changes at MTN, but more about what all of these changes, moves, adjustments reflects overall.

Most of the attention in recent period was by default on MTN, this on the back of the massive fine in Nigeria, the subsequent ripple effect across all operators in terms of adhering to regulatory requirements, the sudden revival of risk management and committees and the increased vigour from the regulatory environment to regulate the industry even further in some regions.

However besides MTN world there were similarly, and still continues, to be massive changes, storms, headwinds, challenges and opportunities across the Continent, MTN in West Africa is declared a dominant player in Nigeria, and subsequently constraints kick in, Safaricom in East Africa is said to be a dominant player but Regulatory environment pushes back and says it will be an error to penalise innovation and investment in growth, Airtel across Africa was rumoured to be involved in talks to dispose of assets after a comment in Davos, resulting in executives having to calm shareholders and setting facts straight, Orange pushes acquisitions to expand its footprint in Africa, Cell-C in South Africa is involved in getting new Shareholders, the GSM is pushing for greater penetration into the more rural areas with 800Mhz, embedded SIMS, IoT and M2M becoming more of a discussion point, data growth is exploding with more smartphones entering into the market, voice revenues are declining, OTT players are becoming more prevalent, the list goes on… its going to be a fantastic 2017 and beyond indeed.

Leadership is what is now required in this very changing landscape, leadership that can set the direction in an industry that touches more lives globally than any other industry, and can be held in your hand.

Leadership that can truly go back to the basic fact that we have a huge responsibility, due to the fact that we have THE ability to improve peoples lives, whether they make their first connection to the internet to gain information, make their first voice call, make their first financial transaction or watch their first YouTube video, and we have a huge responsibility towards all stakeholders in the markets that we operate in, whilst we need to be constantly aware that we need to create value and generate profit in a responsible manner.

Despite Africa having had a tough year too with the drop in commodity prices, declining purchasing power due to exchange rates being under pressure, leadership changes, and a long list of others, 2017 and beyond I believe will see further growth, albeit that powers may shift across the regions, and new “hero” countries will rise from an economic growth perspective, I look forward to the year 2030 and to look back at this period we find ourselves at now.

I recall the days when we built a zero based budget, and we had to think the entire operation through from the first line in our budget, right through to the balance sheet, it was exciting as you had to understand each element of the business and how they impact each other, well it’s time for zero based strategy again, we need to go right back to the start and redefine our vision and mission statements, right through to the core values and our way of working, this will be the year to refresh our entire next decade, if we don’t do it well then we will suffer great losses and destroy shareholder and stakeholder value.

Are you ready for that step?

Would love to hear your views on the industry challenges and opportunities…

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