A few weeks ago, our CEO Mohamed Assoweh engaged in an interview with Oxford Business Group – a global publishing, research and consultancy firm, which publishes economic intelligence on the markets of the Middle East.
All in all, four key questions were asked but the scope and comprehensiveness of these questions (and answers) make for very interesting reading. Read the full interview again below:
Interview: Mohamed Assoweh
To what extent has the sector helped accelerate the digital transition of the economy?
MOHAMED ASSOWEH: The emergence of a digital economy depends on the strength of the telecommunications sector. A robust infrastructure undergirds the mobilisation of digital services, encompassing computer equipment, consumer electronics and application development, including software and website design.
Strengthening this value chain is a critical part of catalysing the digital transition. Accordingly, we have deployed significant investment to ensure that the transformation is sustained and consolidated through the extension and densification of broadband infrastructure. This includes expanding 4G mobile services, fixed high-speed digital subscriber lines, fibre-to-the home networks, and broadband Wi-Fi. The success of this shift will depend on the availability and affordability of fast and secure broadband services across the entire country, especially in urban areas.
How can broadband penetration rates be enhanced across different segments of the market?
ASSOWEH: The fixed broadband penetration rate in Djibouti stands at 25%, placing the country well above the average rate in Africa. However, there is still work to be done to deepen availability and adoption. To stimulate consumption growth, we have deployed a new commercial strategy involving the expansion of our suite of offerings. This approach will help respond to the development of novel digital services and, provide fast and quality services at competitive price points along with an exceptional customer experience.
Furthermore, we plan on exploring new distribution and product development models underpinned by a tariff revision ranging from 60% to 70% on data offerings. This will help to promote broadband use and expand the market for value-added services for all segments of the market, including business-to-business, business-to-customer and business-to-government.
What is the rationale behind the partial privatisation of the telecommunications sector?
ASSOWEH: There is considerable consensus that privatisation leads to higher productivity, profitability, elevated foreign direct investment, lower public debt and, in the case of telecommunications, an expansion of connectivity infrastructure. Accordingly, Djibouti will leverage privatisation to enhance the sector’s development through reforms aimed at attracting national and international private investment. Such reforms include accelerating the restructuring and semi-privatisation of public enterprises. Ultimately, the goal is to foster a climate that supports local business development, entrepreneurship, and investment while attracting new businesses. Moreover, the diffusion of ICT in regional economies could be an essential lever to expedite Djibouti’s economic development.
In what ways is the telecommunications sector deepening financial inclusion?
ASSOWEH: The telecommunications sector is well positioned to drive financial inclusion as mobile phone penetration exceeds that of bank accounts, enabling individuals to access a diverse range of digital services, such as mobile money. The D-money platform epitomises our drive to support the growth of the mobile money market and to engender a digital payment system capable of responding to the challenges of mass retail banking. Collaborating with other financial stakeholders, such as banks and financial technology firms, is a critical step in improving the accessibility and availability of financial services. To that end, we have adopted a financial ecosystem approach to leverage the expertise of regulatory organisations, the banking network as well as micro-finance providers.
Stakeholders in the sector are in discussion with local banks and microcredit institutions to support financial inclusion of populations that are under-served or excluded from the traditional banking system.
Link to original article: https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/articles-interviews/inclusive-connectivity-mohamed-assoweh-ceo-djibouti-telecom-on-efforts-to-increase-broadband-penetration-across-the-country-interview/