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PANAMA - Telecoms & IT

Marcelo Benítez

General Manager, Tigo Panamá

Bio

During his professional career, Marcelo Benítez has served as General Manager of the Tigo El Salvador operation before becoming B2B Vice President, a position he held for three years and from where he launched the Tigo Business brand in Latin America. Before his appointment at Tigo Panama, he held a leadership role with an outstanding eight-year career in Millicom’s corporate offices, with a solid focus for growth in the region as Head of Management in Central America.

"We came to Panama in 2018 with Cable Onda, which was our first investment."
Tigo plays a crucial role in the development of Panamanian communities, building digital highways and providing solutions that connect people and significantly improve lives.
Could you give us an insight on the evolution of the company before and after the acquisition of Cable Onda?

We came to Panama in 2018 with Cable Onda, which was our first investment. Then, we acquired Telefónica Movistar, a USD2-billion investment in Panama. We are extremely proud and pleased to be in Panama, and the first thing we did was to learn about the history of these two successful companies. We took the best of these two companies and of Tigo, and we worked closely with the team. Mainly, we focus on customers, and we give 1,000% to our customers. Second, we work as a team. Third, we are innovators, and we do things different. Then, we do things the right way, and we maintain a high standard of ethics and compliance. That is the culture we are building, which is how we are merging the three cultures into Sangre Tigo, and customers are now also starting to see this. We ensure customers’ satisfaction, and it is at an all-time high. This is all in response to all our efforts. We know there will always be problems, but it is the way you fix the problems that makes the difference.

How is Tigo planning to become the one-stop shop for every company?

Companies are different according to their sizes and sectors. The first thing we realized is that there is no one size fits all. We not only provide infrastructure that is necessary for businesses—such as internet, mobile internet, fixed internet—but we also bring solutions that are available all over the world, and we make it easy for customers to adopt and purchase those solutions. One example is our alliance with AWS. We can approach customers and offer them not only connectivity, but also cloud computing, backup services, and storage, and so on. Tigo will, therefore, support all these services, which is extremely appealing to small, medium, and large companies. The other thing we are doing is investing heavily in data centers. The security and capacity of the data need to be in-country. We have 12 Tier 3 data centers, which are extremely high quality in terms of reliability and security. We have two of them in Panama. There has definitely been a transformation since the pandemic, and some initiatives have accelerated. For example, the way people do business today is much more digital. It is definitely easier to talk to someone without meeting them face to face, talk about business, and even close business.

How is Tigo shaping its model toward this future?

The customer is definitely at the center. We have to stay close to the customer, understand their needs, and be extremely flexible. To adapt to this new model, we need to keep building digital highways and go beyond our existing coverage. In 2022, we will build another 100 sites, and then another 50 sites—that is another 200,000 customers connected in 4G. We will also build fiber for new homes. Second, we need to come up with new solutions. There, we are heavily focused on being a positive actor on increasing financial inclusion in Panama. Today in Panama, only 50% of people own and use a bank account, and we can help here with a digital wallet that can replace cash. That is something we are focusing on, and we expect to launch Tigo Money in 2023. We have Tigo Money in five countries today with more or less 5.5 million customers in those five countries. We are heavily supporting the formalization of the economy and making it easier for the unbanked population to start making transactions with one another, small merchants, and groups of people. Now that people are less resistant to adopting digital solutions, we believe Tigo Money has a place. We have also implemented Tigo Sports. Local soccer teams are an emerging sport, so we decided to take it to another level. We have acquired the rights to all national futbol, and for the first time, the eight games played in Panama are shown on TV.

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