Telecom’s ensuing ‘war’ to win the hearts of consumers – A tale of two CEOs
Telecom, Zamtel

It’s not a secret anymore. We cannot do without technology. Technology drives our businesses, makes our lives easier and gives us access to things we would never have imagined.

2020 was a defining moment for all the telecom players in Zambia. Their infrastructure was tested. Zambians depended on them to ensure that their migration to working from home was made seamless and easy. Corporates and businesses alike nurtured their relations with their telecom partners as they sought reliability in connectivity and ubiquitous availability of services as their staff were flung across geographic locations but still demanded their consistent contributions to their various business models.

Mark Townsend CEO Liquid Telecom Zambia

Mark Townsend hit the ground running when he took over as CEO of Liquid Telecom Zambia in Q1 2020. A legacy technology leader, he was tasked to take Liquid Telecom to the next level following its transformation after CEC gave up its interest in the retail and fibre business segment to the parent Liquid Telecom Group.

Sydney Mupeta CEO Zamtel

Sydney Mupeta received a much-needed relief when Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu disclosed that over K390 million was taken off Zamtel’s balance sheet after restructuring through a debt to equity swap with its subsidiary, Infratel.

Airtel and MTN being extant players whose battleground become mobile money growth, Liquid Telecom and Zamtel became near rivals in the game broadband for home and office.

In Liquid’s arsenal is an expansive fibre broadband network that has been popularized through the companies aggressive marketing strategy. Fibre combined with their 3/4G services has allowed them to deploy value added services

As for Zamtel, the ‘parting of ways’ with the towers meant that the company could begin to find itself and focus on a new product offering that they aptly dubbed as Velocity which won them an award at the 2020 ecommerce awards. The awards did not end there, Parent investment group IDC always christened Zamtel with the award of most improved and innovative enterprise in its portfolio of companies.

However, with accolades for Zamtel came the watchful eye of the regulator. The state owned MNO has been fined with a total of K450,000 for failing to meet the QoS parameter, i.e. Call setup success rate in Chingola, Lusaka and Kitwe and HTTP successful internet Log-ins in Chingola,Chipata and Kitwe, according to Zambia Business Times.

With quality of service as one of his top priorities, Mark of Liquid has galvanized his legion of technical support and customer care staff to prioritize the customer. He has been the more visible of the two CEOs when it comes to advocating for a customer centric approach that has his staff as the important piece of the “greatest team in the land” mantra with a “double thumbs up” jig saw puzzle.

As the year comes to a close, it is clear that Sydney will be taking the fight to Mark. Zamtel has launched a promotion that seeks to grow its market share. Sydney understands it’s a game of numbers. He may trail third in the mobile subscriber’s race, but he will be keen on level up in the broadband race. However, it is not without caution. An aggressive market growth strategy means that there will be erosion of margins especially when price wars ensue. Mark understands this hence why Liquid’s approach has been the subtler of the two tech companies when comes to freebies.

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