26 Oct 2012

How African operators can stand out from their competitors..

How can operators make an impact on the African market?

Joao Manuel Faisca, Vice-President for Southern Europe,
 Middle East and Africa, WeDo Technologies
By Joao Manuel Faisca, Vice-President for Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa, WeDo Technologies

The past five years has been a time of great investment and growth in telecommunications across Africa.  Africa is still the fastest growing telecoms market in the world and mobile penetration levels in sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to reach 54% by the end of 2012 and 64% by 2015, compared to just 28% five years ago.

However, due to this accelerated growth, the African telecommunications industry has become much more challenging.  There is greater competition among operators as well as the need to fast-track infrastructure investment to grow capacity and offer new services.  However, with these new services and growth there is also great potential for leakages and fraud. In a report by Juniper Research, it was found that operators were "leaking" revenue because the complexity of networks made fraud and errors harder to spot.  It was confirmed that the problem is worst in Africa and the Middle East, where 15% of revenue is lost annually, compared with 1% in Europe and about 2.8% in North America.  

Similarly, one of the main challenges in the African market for operators is ensuring that they are profitable even with low average revenue per user (ARPU) – something that is common across the continent.  Despite a low ARPU, there is still a huge demand for operators to provide an exceptional customer services and implement coherent and large scale network to offer new services. 

But what does all this mean for the operators in this region?  How can they overcome these challenges and provide customers with a great service and remain profitable in this growing market?
Improving the P&L and ensuring that customers remain happy and are provided with the services they require is an essential focus for telecom operators. That makes identifying revenue leakage, a vital part of an operator’s business.  Similarly, operators need to ensure that they are continuing to optimise efficiency and therefore are bringing money to the bottom line.  In order to do so, operators should be aware of the concept of Business Assurance and use systems to improve operational effectiveness and manage risk.   It tries to quantify what really matters to organizations and their stakeholders, to show how they can improve their systems, and businesses, which ultimately leads to overall business performance improvement. 

Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management are examples of two different processes that operators will want to monitor to understand their business’ overall performance and overcome the challenges in the African region. Identifying a structured and relational approach between them and other areas ensures that your organization fully understands the interdependence between processes, systems, and data that impact performance. While Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management generate their own metrics, Business Assurance will correlate the metrics between the two areas to understand their impact on the business overall and how they relate to areas such as collections or billing.

In order to tackle these potential leakages and fraud losses, the operators should have or create a Revenue Assurance & Fraud department with specific tools such as, a Business Assurance system. Another option, is adopting a managed service approach.  This offers an alternative to operators’ in-house operational planning, implementation, staffing, training, and on-going operations.  Via managed services, telecom operators can reduce the guesswork and expense of business management technology by obtaining software, services and support through a single point of contact at an affordable monthly cost and most importantly the telecom operators can virtually expand their teams via external expertise that have access to global Business Assurance best practices.

In Egypt, for example, there is a particularly high level of competition.  There are three operators covering the entire market with 100 per cent penetration.  In order to differentiate itself from the competition and overcome the challenges within the African market, one of the key operators in Egypt has deployed WeDo Technologies’ Business Assurance system and comments, “The return on investment is very positive. I can remember that in the first phase when we just applied the system, we had a return on investment during the data acceptance test so it was very beneficial for us.”  

In order for operators in the African region to overcome these challenges they are facing and ensure that this period of growth does not turn sour, understanding the performance of their business is a critical aspect for improvement. In turn, this will assist them in improving their bottom line and ensure that their customers are happy – a win, win situation for all!
WeDo Technologies is an innovator in revenue and business assurance software with customers in eight countries in Middle East and Africa.  WeDo Technologies will be exhibiting at AfricaCom 2012.  Visit them at stand P39 or contact Joao Manuel Faisca (joao.faisca@wedotechnologies) or Pedro Teixeira (pedro.teixeira@wedotechnologies.com) to arrange a meeting.