The telecommunications and ICT sector is changing, and operators must adapt to new market conditions in order to meet the needs of the customers and to ensure future profitability. That is the overall message coming out of 2 days of debate and networking at West and Central Africa Com, held on 16th and 16th June in Dakar, Senegal.
Senior representatives of the major regional operators (Orange, MTN, Airtel, Sonatel, Expresso Telecom, Globacom, Vodafone and more), and their suppliers shared their strategic visions for future growth in the conference.
Innovation was a key word. As Alain Kahasha, MD of Airtel Niger said: 'investment in innovation is a matter of life or death; in a market where voice revenues are decreasing, operators have to innovate to ensure revenues for their shareholders'. To deliver on it, operators and their partners are focusing on improving access for the unconnected, developing internet services, and m-banking. In addition, they must put in place initiatives to improve margins; as such, infrastructure sharing was a major topic of discussion. Bernard Ghillebaert, VP of West Africa and Asia at Orange Group said: 'this conference is a great occasion to meet telecoms experts from all the countries in the region, and to find out that our partners are interested in infrastructure sharing'.
Now in its 8th year, the event has indeed become a key forum for operators, regulators, equipment and solutions vendors, and all stakeholders in the telecommunications and ICT sector to network in their region. Ahmad Farroukh, Vice President for West and Central Africa at MTN Group - and a regular keynote speaker - said he was happy with this year's event: 'the conference topics were good and the level of participation was up to our expectations'. A first-time speaker, Saiful Alam, CCO of Expresso Telecom Group, said he 'thoroughly enjoyed it; it was extremely well organised, I have already committed to attend next year and I would recommend anyone in ICT doing business in Africa to participate'.
The conference was co-located with an exhibition of 34 companies showcasing their latest products and solutions to support operators' business in the region. For all participants, it has been a busy two days, hopefully bringing more ideas and prospects for their businesses in the coming year. One of them was Niyi Olujimi, Managing Director of Multi Dimension Technology in Nigeria, who said: 'I'm very impressed with this event. Our company has been transformed by the events put together by Informa Telecoms and Media in Senegal, Nigeria and South Africa, and we appreciate every bit of the good work'.