MTN Boss: ‘We Were Arrogant, We Lost Market Share’


The CEO MTN Uganda Wim Vanhelleputte has in a stunning interview admitted how the telecom giant let success get to its head leading to a big loss in market share.

Vanhelleputte told a local daily in a QnA piece that the company which has been operating in Uganda for close to 20 years, and which has 12 million customers on its network, took success for granted, rested on its laurels and paid dearly losing 10 percent market share.

He said: ‘About five years ago, we took our success for granted. We did not see the competition coming the way it did. As such we have lost our market share by about 10 percent to about 50% over the last five years. However that is also a big thing because competition is healthy.’

Perhaps it’s with this realization that MTN is currently re-engaging in the market with full vigor by targeting millennial and youths with a string of products.

MTN CMO: Prentout 2nd left) touted the youthful character MTN products

At the launch of MTN PULSE early this month, Olivier Prentout, the Chief Marketing Officer, touted the youthful character of this particular product:

Prentout said: ‘For the first time ever, we are introducing a weekend bundle. We understand that the weekend is filled with activities that must be shared. Those moments can now be shared with an affordable youth friendly weekend bundle.’

That party, at Legends Bar in Kampala was the first in many years and commentators said the telecom was: ‘reconnecting with young people who are considered to be the majority consumers of data.’

CEO Vanhelleputte in the QnA said fibre optics, on which data is premised, are the future of the telecom industry. “The future of mobile telecom is evolving from wires to wireless and shall move to fibre optics in about the next 10 years.

Vanhelleputte said the company was no longer looking at listing on the Uganda Stock Exchange but was instead focusing on ‘localization of equity.’

‘Today, we have 5% local shareholding, but there is need to increase these shareholdings. But going to a local stock exchange may not be a guarantee that you will increase local shareholding because the market is open to anyone,’ he said.

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