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KUWAIT - Telecoms & IT

Benoit Janin

CEO, Virgin Mobile Kuwait

Bio

Benoit Janin joined Virgin Mobile MEA in 2020 as the CEO of Kuwait. He has over 23 years of experience within the telecoms industry in different countries and continents. After 10 years in Orange group, Janin joined Veon as the CCO in Cambodia. He then became the CEO of Millicom, first in Chad and then in Tanzania. His last position prior to joining Virgin Mobile was at Airtel as the CEO in Congo. He graduated from the ICN business school in France with a master’s degree in general management and entrepreneurship. Janin has also completed executive programs in Stanford and INSEAD business schools.

"Kuwait is one of the most digital markets in the world."
A digital disruptor, Virgin Mobile has embraced Kuwait’s Vision 2035 since the beginning and provides many programs and services to increase digital literacy and support the development of the economy.
What makes Virgin Mobile so unique in the telecom market of Kuwait?

Kuwait is one of the most digital markets in the world. We strive to bring an inventive digital business model that eliminates the old-school ways of telecommunication. We bring in the latest technologies and seek to change the game. We like to say we are a digital app and not a telecom operator, because we have an all-in-one app where customers can activate a SIM and even do self-onboarding with e-SIM. It is simple. We also offer two free streaming services, music, and video, in all our plans by default. With us, there are no contracts or commitments. We do not expect customers to come into branches, sign anything, or go through a long process; everything is simplified and made as user friendly as possible. We are bringing a completely new digital experience for mobile consumers in Kuwait. We are also coming up with a new number range (4 prefix), which is important in Kuwait as people prefer fancy numbers. We always work to bring the most disruptive digital approach.

How is Virgin Mobile striving to progress the Kuwait Vision 2035 initiatives across society?

We expect a bright future for Kuwait. We have embraced Kuwait’s Vision 2035 since the beginning. There have been many efforts in the country to support foreign investment and make Kuwait attractive to investors from abroad. We have benefited from that support from KDIPA and other authorities, such as CITRA, to enter the market, invest, and hire. We believe our presence in Kuwait is important. Virgin Mobile has capacity-building programs for digital interest because it is a digital disruptor. Our programs are about increasing digital literacy and capacity for kids, teens, and young at heart, so that we can develop their understanding of the gig economy.

How does Virgin Mobile ensure an environmentally friendly future?

This is a major part of Virgin’s DNA—not only Virgin Mobile but also the entire Virgin group. It is one of our top priorities. We are already carbon neutral. Our SIM packages are biodegradable. We will implement a feature whereby every user can offset their mobile carbon footprints through the app. We have been working on developing that and it will be launched soon. The idea is to calculate the carbon footprint of our users and our own internal carbon footprint as a company. Users will be able to allocate a part of their fees to offset their carbon footprint. We are also considering different options and are still in talks with partners to implement initiatives such as planting trees, cleaning the ocean, and so on.

Virgin Mobile Kuwait has announced its Metaverse sphere project. What does this mean for the company, and what are your expectations for this development?

We support the youth digital entrepreneur community in Kuwait and the region to boost tomorrow’s multi-dimensional services. The idea is to develop a program for young entrepreneurs to be the first ones in Kuwait to elaborate on the whole environment and the ecosystem of Web 3.0. Eventually, all those ecosystems and universes will become increasingly intelligent, and it is about leveraging on this trend. We will have more interconnected digital platforms and that will make us unique and successful.

What is unique about the mobile users in Kuwait versus other countries?

Digital usage here is incredibly high; Snapchat is the second worldwide in terms of penetration. TikTok is fifth, and Twitter is eight. It is incredible that average mobile data consumption in Kuwait is the highest worldwide, at around 200GB per user per month on average. That brings us to another question about sustainability. We are considering starting an awareness campaign about the consequences and downsides of being addicted to internet usage and want to promote a healthier lifestyle. As the leading digital provider in Kuwait, it is our responsibility to educate mobile consumers.

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