Telecom Namibia Searching for New MD

STATE-owned telecommunications firm Telecom Namibia has begun searching for a new MD to replace Frans Ndoroma who has led the company for 12 years.

Ndoroma’s contract expires on 31 October this year. He was initially appointed in 2002 on a five year contract, which was renewed by the board in 2007.

“He is not available for re-appointment. This is a board driven exercise. We expect the appointment to happen as soon as the recruitment process has been finalised. We expect the MD to remain in his position for the next few months to ensure a smooth leadership transition, which should be completed by the end of October this year,” said Oiva Angula, senior manager of corporate communications and public relations in a written response to emailed questions.

THE NDOROMA ERA

Under Ndoroma’s tenure, Telecom Namibia made a number of investments, notably in Angola and South Africa, which were not as successful as planned.

Last month, Telecom said it had sold its stake in South African-based telecommunications company, Neotel.

As part of the Neotel sale to Vodacom, Telecom as a minority shareholder relinquished its involvement in Neotel. The transaction between Neotel and Vodacom is valued at N$7 billion, which makes Telecom’s 12,5% stake to be valued at N$875 million.

Telecom announced in July 2011 that it was going to sell stakes in Neotel and Mundo Statel of Angola, in order to concentrate on the local market. Close to nine years ago, Telecom made US$80 million investments in Neotel and Mundo Startel in hopes of capturing the Southern African telecom market. But in 2011, Telecom said the investments had not been profitable. Telecom had a 48% stake in Mundo Startel.

Despite these investments, which observers say were bad investments, Angula said Ndoroma will go down in the company’s history as a transformational MD.

“He has been instrumental in the transformation and the growth path of the company during his tenure. That, I think, is his greatest achievement. He charted a new course for Telecom Namibia. Strategically, he has guided our transition from being a traditional Telco into a modern ICT service provider, supported by new services and platforms. The rebranding of Telecom Namibia happened during his tenure,” Angula said.

Ndoroma’s career at Telecom Namibia also includes the West Africa Cable System (WACS) landing station at Swakopmund, the expansion of the network footprint and connectivity to South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Angola, and acquiring a GSM mobile company, TN Mobile (formerly Leo).

BURNING FINGERS

Does he consider the investments in Angola and Neotel as a failure?

Angula said the Angolan market proved difficult due to a number of factors beyond Telecom’s control and the company decided to exit responsibly.

“South Africa is a lucrative market, if we had the choice we would have stayed. However, as part of the Neotel sale to Vodacom, Telecom Namibia is required to end its involvement in Neotel. At the same time, the sale will allow us to concentrate on the domestic operations,” he said.

Angula said the shareholding in Neotel has brought many benefits to Telecom Namibia. The cost of accessing its capacity on WACS was significantly reduced due to sudden competition in the South African market, he said.

Access to the WACS undersea cable was made possible by its association with Neotel as well as the sharing of expertise and skills, Angula said.

“In both instances, our preoccupation is to recover the investments made in the two ventures,” he said.

THE RIGHT CANDIDATE

What kind of MD is Telecom looking for? Observers says until Telecom employs and retains top IT talent, it will never successfully compete with MTC.

Responding to this view point, Angula said the company will look at a mix of candidates for the MD role, based on the job requirements.

“With regard to competition, reducing success of the Telecom Namibia business to the retention of top IT talent amounts to simplification of the complexity of running a company like Telecom Namibia in this small yet tough market.”

Telecom has always been slammed for poor service and lagging behind its competitors like MTC Namibia. Angula said the company is determined to turn things around.

“Our sector is evolving at a breakneck speed, and customer demands are keeping pace with these sweeping changes. With this in mind, Telecom Namibia has identified a number of growth areas, which we will be chasing in the medium-term, he said. The company will focus on service and efficiency. “We will continue to expand the network to various corners of the country and will deliver products and services as demanded by the market.”

Source : The Namibian