Zain Sudan CEO, Elfatih Erwa, has said that he believes the telecom sector in Sudan shall remain a significant one, if not rise even further in importance given the increase in mobile penetration rates and use of mobile data services in the country.
Speaking at the Middle East Com conference in Dubai, Erwa, who became CEO in 2008, also forecasts there will be little chance for the successful entry of new players, and believes in fact that the industry may be entering a period of consolidation given the three mobile and two fixed line operators already providing services in the market.
“I’m optimistic about the potential of the telecom sector in Sudan and similarly for the future of Zain Sudan. We shall continue developing our strong distribution channels and innovating with new services, focusing on providing customers the best mobile experience in the country. We remain committed to deliver our brand promise of a Wonderful World to the communities we serve,” Erwa said.
“Internally the company is doing well on all operational levels and we are investing heavily in network upgrades,” Erwa said.
“We have experienced 15% revenue growth year-on-year in local currency terms, and enjoy a leading 41% customer market share that reflects a 60% share of revenues in the overall market,” Erwa added.
Erwa explained that Sudan’s contribution to Zain Group’s overall service revenues had fallen from a peak of 20% to now contribute around 15% given the local currency fluctuations that has seen the Sudan pound depreciate by over 120% in recent years.
He also noted Zain Sudan was contributing a similar 15% of Zain Group’s net profit, highlighting the debt-free nature of the operation.
“I believe we are coming into another take-off period in Sudan, and in some geographic regions we are already witnessing an explosion of data usage. We are interested in the growing area of mobile money, and have recently launched a commercial service with the Bank of Khartoum. We also see other good growth opportunities in the country especially in value added services and we shall be committing resources towards those also,” Erwa commented.
“We could launch 4G commercially within three or four months of being given permission to do so by the regulator,” Erwa asserted. “We already have a number of competitive advantages including being one of the founding mobile operators in Sudan so we have good access to spectrum, and are viewed as a preferred provider in the country. We also benefit from significant synergies with Zain Group, and we are very fortunate to have the ongoing support of one of the leading telecom groups in the region,” he added.
On human resource issues, Erwa detailed how the company is investing in the training and development of his dedicated workforce and how the company has recently increased salaries to meet rising inflation.