Nazar Gadkarim Ali Arabi, CSO, Sudatel telecom group. Nazar Gadkarim Ali Arabi, CSO, Sudatel telecom group.

Nazar Gadkarim Ali Arabi, chief strategy officer, Sudatel telecom group,talks about the plans to transform not just the business into ICT but also transform the future of their customers.

Sudatel started its turnaround journey two years back, improving financial performance and enhancing its operating model. Having started from Sudan, Sudatel now operates as a mobile operator in four African countries (Sudan, Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea Conakry) while providing telecom connectivity to two other countries (Ethiopia and Chad).

Besides that, Sudatel operates one of the top datacentres in the region which Ali Arabi believes will be ‘the cornerstone of the upcoming transformation into a full ICT player’. In addition to that, Sudatel has also invested in submarine business with major ownership in four submarine cable systems which are ACE, running along the west coast of Africa; EASSy, covering the east coast of Africa to Port Sudan; SAS1 and SAS2 connecting Port-Sudan to Jeddah in KSA. “Sudatel has the right set of capabilities to transform into a full ICT provider capitalising on the existing assets as well as driving innovation to lead the delivery of ICT services in the region”, remarks Ali Arabi.

The key markets Sudatel is focused upon are Sudan, Senegal and Mauritania considering the potential of these markets as well as the positive rate of growth. "Moreover, Sudatel is constantly working very firmly to connect the landlocked countries in Africa; as of now Sudatel provides connectivity to two African landlocked countries (Chad and Ethiopia), another two will follow in the very near future making Port-Sudan Africa gateway”, says Ali Arabi.

Connecting and then transforming is the main strategy of Sudatel. During the coming year, the focus primarily will be on strengthening its infrastructure, providing a better connectivity to the customers given the growing demand for broadband. Since many of its markets are still with relatively low broadband penetration, it will stay focussed on fibre to buildings (FTTx) besides launching 4G in some of the markets and growing its 3G capacities. Plans are also in place to launch mobile money services.

Looking further beyond 2016, the focus will be on the transformation. “We are aiming to provide unique customer experience, connecting our customers seamlessly to Sudatel platform and provide future services like IoT, IPTV, cloud services and digital economy services. Together with relevant stakeholders, we are aiming to lay the groundwork for e-health, e-learning, e-government in all the countries that we are operating in. We are inspired to change peoples’ lives through these services, we are not just transforming our business into ICT, we are also transforming the future of our customers and enhancing the wellbeing of the communities across our chosen markets”, says Ali Arabi.

In a market that sees constant battling between the new entrants and the incumbents, survival is surely not an easy game. “Partnerships and smart mergers and acquisition activities constitute our strategic approach to keep the momentum of the innovation externally while internally we will be focusing on acquiring and developing the talent within our organization”, says Ali Arabi.

In addition, Sudatel has a dedicated unit for digital services and it’s pushing to grow that unit very fast during the coming two years.

Customer is king-the pressures from customers has never been as much and intense as today. “Delivering excellent experience is not an easy mission. We are considering strategically, to bring content close to our customers, making and developing local content besides utilising our datacentre through partnerships with key content providers. Besides providing the best services through the right technology, we are also looking to equip our customers with tools to better serve themselves. The customer is at the centre of what we are inspired to do”, comments Ali Arabi.

Sudatel recently signed a partnership agreement with Al Jazeera media. Ali Arabi says: “This agreement will contribute in consolidating the name of Sudatel in the minds of viewers.” In addition, the agreement allows the group to sponsor some programs in terms of encouraging entrepreneurship; it further provides a partnership opportunity between Al Jazeera media training and development centre and Sudatel telecom academy (Sudacad) towards skill development.