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Zainadin D. A. Dalsuco

MOZAMBIQUE - Telecoms & IT

Back It Up

CEO, Telecomunicaçíµes de Moçambique

Bio

Zainadin D. A. Dalsuco was born in 1958 and has been the CEO of Telecomunicaçíµes de Moçambique since 2011. He was previously the National Director for Public Assets. His work has taken him around the world, from Mozambique to South Africa, Angola, Brazil, Portugal, and Austria. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in law from the University of Eduardo Mondlane.

"Due to the resurgence of coal and gas, growth in certain provinces has been substantial."

How has Telecomunicaçíµes de Moçambique (TDM) contributed to the economic development of Mozambique?

TDM is 90% state-owned, with the remaining 10% owned by its employees. We compete with other market players on an equal basis. We also aim to provide quality solutions to telecommunications operators, organizations, and people contributing to the growth and development of the country.

How would you characterize the ability of Mozambique’s telecommunications infrastructure to meet the needs of rapid economic growth?

We have modern and robust telecommunications infrastructure, but for the level of development at certain poles, it remains insufficient. There are challenges ahead, namely regarding investment in new infrastructure and in strengthening existing services.

What role does TDM play in the development of infrastructure?

TDM is the main provider of telecommunications infrastructure in Mozambique for landlines, backhaul for mobile telephone services, broadband services, and the internet. As such, TDM is a major player in the economic development of the country. It is the only player in fixed-line telecommunications services, which, as you know, are in decline. Up to 2010, our network was the only one linking all the provincial capitals through a national broadband transmission network using 10,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cables. This infrastructure has allowed TDM to satisfy demand. TDM also provides ADSL connections and a CDMA network that covers all provincial capitals and major cities. We have been providing CDMA services for voice calls and the internet to reach areas inaccessible through normal cable and fiber optics. We recently upgraded the CDMA network to 800 MHz. Recently, we also launched a more comprehensive service in an effort to cover more customers and more people. We have also extended this to all products due to the increase in mobile phone usage, but we also aim to introduce new services like SMS and email, and possibly media in the future.

“Due to the resurgence of coal and gas, growth in certain provinces has been substantial.”

What is the main challenge to ensuring that Mozambique’s telecommunications infrastructure reaches the entire population?

Infrastructure is very expensive to put in place, and we have to go deep in order to reach everyone. We need to address universal access, which means that we need to reach some areas that are not commercially viable, but rather of social or nationally strategic consideration. If people interact and communicate, they will be able to participate in the development of the country. We have moved from being a public to a private company, but our core mission has remained to provide infrastructure to everyone while simultaneously dealing with issues related to the introduction of an open market.

How do you balance TDM’s social and commercial goals?

This is a difficult balance to maintain, but throughout 2011 and 2012 we achieved a positive balance sheet. We are working hard to provide infrastructure to everyone as soon as possible, especially at hospitals and other public facilities. This, along with the connectivity of schools, is something that we would really like to realize. It is only a matter of time, but the small projects are often the most difficult.

What is your expansion plan for the network backbone ?

We now have two cables, one offshore and one that runs onshore along the coast. The problem with submarine fiber-optic cables is that they are very expensive to repair. It costs a minimum of $500,000 every time you have to repair the cable. We are now trying to lay a new cable through the interior of the country in order to cover the regions that are currently neglected. We are also introducing a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) program, which will provide fiber-optic connections for homes and businesses. This will initially be available in 12 cities, but will certainly expand to others. We have invested heavily in regional networks and these are being used by all of the current telecommunications operators. We now have to work to provide access to customers. This is one of the biggest—in terms of the size and level of investment—and most ambitious projects that we have on the table.

How has growth in the coal and gas industry affected the needs of telecommunications infrastructure in Mozambique?

Due to the resurgence of coal and gas, growth in certain provinces has been substantial. Investment has led to economic growth and increases in demand for telecommunications services, particularly data. To respond to this demand, TDM has put in place upgrades and increased backbone transmission capacity. The network extension has been implemented in some district centers in Cabo Delgado, and it is a part of the project used to link Mozambique to Tanzania. Design and procurement is our response to the demand of the gas and coal sectors.

What are your goals for 2014 and beyond?

We are working on a fresh strategic plan to meet the needs of the new market. We aim to implement a structural program in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the business and to better adapt. We would like to improve the sales of major products and services and to continue addressing the tariff issue. We aim to improve services and debt collection and implement certain regulations. We also want to improve links to the network backbone, connecting the remaining neighboring countries; a further 2,300 kilometers brings us closer to the 10,000-kilometer mark. We also plan to work on the fiber-optic networks of major cities, raising their length to 1,106 kilometers, which will bring eventually us to the 12,000-kilometer level. Ultimately, we need to provide the necessary infrastructure for universal communications, covering every province deep into the country, and we will have to ensure the maintenance and high performance of this network. We aim to improve the quality of the services provided and continue to ensure a return on fixed assets in the company by actively ensuring synergies between the companies within the group. We are 74% shareholders in mCel, 50% in TVCABO, 50% in the Telephone Directory (Yellow Pages), and 100% in Teledata. We are certain that some of the operators will apply for the fixed service, where we enjoy a distinct advantage, but in order to remain competitive we must combine both fixed and mobile services, the latter falling under the remit of mCel. Optimizing human resource capital by reorganizing the resources of the company is also a priority, and requires the consolidation of training programs. We also have a restructuring program yet to be fully implemented; we have about 1,469 employees, which is excessive for a high-tech company like TDM. This is an issue, as, on average, every employee in Mozambique may support up to five others financially. If we let 100 people go, we could be creating difficulties for 500 people. Naturally, this is one of the most challenging issues we will be facing in 2014.

© The Business Year – November 2013

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