Deepak Srivastava is the COO for Airtel Nigeria
The Com World Series team caught up with Deepak ahead of the NigeriaCom conference and exhibition, taking place at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria, 17-18 September to find out a bit more about his experiences and focus at the event
Com World Series: How is your company positioned in Nigeria and what are its future objectives?
Deepak Srivastava: Airtel is positioned as the operator of first choice for Nigerians with a corporate vision of becoming the most loved brand in the daily lives of Nigerians. Currently, we have the largest 3.75G Network in Nigeria with footprint in all the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), recently, rated us the fastest growing data operator in Nigeria and we keep scoring several series of firsts in terms of network innovation and modernization. Without a doubt, one of our key objectives is to be the Mobile Broadband service provider of first choice for Nigerians. We aim to achieve this by empowering the communities we operate in with the latest network technology. In the past 30 months, we have invested close to $2bn in network upgrade and innovation and we shall keep investing in Nigeria in line with our aspiration of becoming the most loved brand in the country.
Com World Series: What do you think are the top 3 major trends that are affecting your business in the region in 2013?
Deepak Srivastava: Certainly, high penetration of smartphones is defining the mobile telephony landscape. The transition from voice to data keeps gaining traction and this is changing the game. You must also single out the extreme and huge demand for mobile broadband. A clear case in point is the NCC’s recent report that ascribed over 90% growth rate to Airtel in terms of data/Internet services in a six month period. Thirdly, Nigerians have a large population of youth. The youths are early adopters with a large appetite for mobile broadband.
Com World Series: What are the remaining challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of services in the region and which technologies are most likely to resolve these issues?
Deepak Srivastava: Well, the issues are already well documented and they include poor, unreliable and erratic public power supply, frequent cases of vandalisation and fibre-cut, multiple-taxation, multiple regulation, insecurity in the North and we saw cases of extreme flooding from many States in the South last year. In terms of solutions, Airtel has adopted solar based solutions in powering our network and we are currently asking for the declaration of telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure.
Com World Series: How are smartphones/tablets and cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in Nigeria?
Deepak Srivastava: Nigeria is moving fast towards the direction of a connected society. This is a positive and interesting development. Most network providers are adopting a data-focused approach. With huge demand for data, it is definitely interesting times for broadband service providers.
Com World Series: In your opinion, which companies are spearheading innovation in the region and what can be learnt from them?
Deepak Srivastava: There have several interesting developments especially in the areas of ICT and Internet/data. We have seen a lot of interesting development in the online retail space with emergence of players like Konga and Jumia. We have also seen a lot of local apps developers with strong Nigerian presence. The truth is, Nigeria is full of entrepreneurs and this has played itself out in the Internet/data space.
Com World Series: Who are you most looking forward to meeting/hearing from and what do you hope to achieve from taking part in NigeriaCom?
Deepak Srivastava: With NigeriaCom, it is always a great learning experience. The atmosphere is usually electrifying and choice of speakers always great. Personally, I will like to enjoy the show and pay attention to everyone because with NigeriaCom, you are always sure of a quality line-up of speakers.