The Business Year

Jerry Mobbs

MOZAMBIQUE - Telecoms & IT

Stay on the Line

CEO, Vodacom Moçambique


Jerry Mobbs has a 15-year background in management with Augere, Omantel, and Millicom International Cellular. His career has taken him to Bangladesh, Indonesia, Oman, Pakistan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Croatia, Iraq, and Iran in the fixed-line, internet, and mobile businesses. He holds a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Thames Polytechnic and later graduated in Basic Officer Training from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in 1988. He obtained his MBA in 1995 from the Cranfield School of Management and is currently the CEO of Vodacom Moçambique.

Vodacom entered Mozambique 10 years ago and today has a 38% market share. How has your strategy led to this? Vodacom is known worldwide for quality. It’s a given that […]

Vodacom entered Mozambique 10 years ago and today has a 38% market share. How has your strategy led to this?

Vodacom is known worldwide for quality. It’s a given that if you make a call in an area where we operate, it goes through clearly, and you are able to hold the call for as long as needed. That value proposition now extends into data as well. In this particular market, we’ve really taken the lead in giving bonuses and special offers, in particular to new customers that are coming into the market and who may not have owned a mobile phone before, or with limited disposable income. We offer great packages that have helped them get a mobile phone and make the most of their mobile services budget. In short, our strategy has been to focus on quality and value, rather than the competition. Judging from our feedback, people are impressed with the quality of the services we offer in general.

Mobile penetration in Mozambique is still comparatively low. What does that mean for your operations here?

We see tremendous opportunities here today, even though penetration is low compared to other countries. The political situation is stable, and there has been a peaceful presidential transition following the elections, which is quite unusual. That stability has given us a good level of reassurance on the long-term future of the company. Then when you look at the interactive investments that are coming in and that will be of huge importance and benefit to the historically underdeveloped north of the country, you find that, in the long term, Mozambique is a place of great opportunity, and we want to be a part of that. This is our 10th anniversary year, and we’ve expanded our network by 70%, with the process complete by November 2013. This is something that we’ve never done before, and I think it confirms our belief in the long-term future of Mozambique.

What are the main challenges for foreign investors in Mozambique?

The lack of skilled employees is a challenge, and efforts to develop talent and skills can backfire when your competition poaches your staff. Another issue is that there’s substantial investment without a definitive national infrastructure plan. Individual ministries appear to be acting without a coherent plan. You just have to persevere, and also be flexible and attempt new approaches. The telecoms industry is open to this kind of flexibility, thankfully.

Do you welcome the arrival of a third player in Mozambique’s mobile telecommunications market?

There would be inevitable growing pains for the newcomer. When you go from a two-player to a three-player situation in a market of 25 million people, you find that the quality of service tends to improve, thanks to competition. Also, the market is still big enough for all three to justify making more investments in the country, spurred on by their competition. I think three is the right number to ensure ubiquitous coverage and to improve the quality of the service and products on offer. Mozambique is large enough for this to be workable for all parties involved.

What other mobile trends do you foresee moving into 2014?

The growth of data will continue at an extraordinary rate. In addition, I foresee that many people’s first experience of a computer won’t be sitting at a desk, but on a $50-$80 smartphone. Those low-cost smartphones are set to transform peoples’ lives, providing access to the internet, phone connectivity, mobile money, cameras, music, and entertainment. Our plans involve continued investment in data, too. The demand is there and rising; this is an exciting time to be involved in the sector.



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