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Interviews

Mazen Mroue, Chief Operating Officer at MTN Nigeria

Inside Telecom Staff

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Mazen Mroue
How have you focused on expansion in the market?

We believe everyone deserves the benefits of a modern, connected life. This is the philosophy that drives our expansion strategy. We are focused on strategies that help us achieve sustainable results and ensure that people remain connected through our voice and data service offerings. Our expansion efforts are focused on opportunities in financial technology and digital. The next three years will see us investing about N600 billion to accelerate the expansion of our network infrastructure, deepen population coverage and support the Federal Government’s broadband initiatives. In the fintech area, we will continue to leverage our Super-Agent licence to support the Nigerian government in achieving set objectives for closing the financial inclusion gaps. At the same time, we continue engaging relevant authorities to obtain a Payment Service Bank licence. Our expansion plans are also largely determined by our customers; we are committed to nurturing and earning their trust and will continue to invest in new products and services tailored to meet their needs. 

Digitization is reshaping the industry landscape. How are you optimizing customer touchpoints?

Digitization will enhance the delivery of telecommunication services and also help economies perform better. Digitization, when properly implemented, will lead to improved socio-economic benefits for citizens by providing additional job opportunities and boosting productivity. We have continued to see this in action, partly due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and we believe that as a company in active collaboration with the country, we should continue to make necessary investments to deepen and fully deploy a digital economy. This is why in 2019, we restructured our digital division in a bid to drive the growth of our digital business, make significant contributions in enabling the ongoing digital revolution by providing access, interconnectivity and applications and most especially, improve intimacy with our customers. We are leveraging and combining technology such as cloud, mobile, social, data analytics, artificial intelligence in innovative ways to improve service delivery. We offer an integrated suite of communication products and services including voice, data and digital service with 2G, 3G and 4G LTE technology as well as exploring 5G technology. We were the first telecoms operator to test the 5G technology in West Africa, and we will continue to make the required investments to deepen and optimize digital solutions and touchpoints for our customers.

How is MTN Nigeria meeting the telecommunication needs of the rural communities in the country?

We are constantly looking for ways to ensure that everybody including those living in unserved and under-served communities has access to voice, data and fintech solutions because we believe that connectivity has a significant impact on the quality of life and socio-economic outcomes for people and the nation. Through our rural telephony programme, we have identified 3,000 communities that will benefit from our network expansion plans over the next three years. This is being delivered through a phased approach. Over the course of this year, communities in Abuja, Enugu, Ibadan, Kano, and Port Harcourt have already begun to benefit from this program.

As a telecoms company, what has been the greatest challenge amid the COVID-19 pandemic? What course of action have you taken to buffer the effects?

The pandemic greatly affected the global economy and health systems leading to unavoidable loss of lives and finances. To this day, many industries and economies are still dealing with the effects of the spread of the virus, and in some countries, the government and health sector are continuing to contain the spread of the virus as new cases are recorded.

With all the uncertainties that came with COVID-19, it was important for the business to adapt quickly and to a considerable extent, put plans in place to avoid significant disruptions that could have otherwise caused major setbacks. Our focus was on keeping our customers connected all through the period and on our staff welfare. We executed a digital transformation that saw our staff working from home while our essential workers continued to work at our physical locations while observing strict hygienic measures. We strengthened the reliability and sustainability of our networks to ensure that our supply chain was not affected, made availability for spares as a mitigation strategy, and we developed products and services to assist our customers. With all this in place, we have been able to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our operations. As part of our commitment to the communities we operate in, we made financial, product and service investments and fostered partnerships to support the efforts of the government and the NCDC. We also waived a percentage of our service charges on our MoMo Agent network and provided payment extensions for our postpaid customers.

What are the current telecommunication challenges/opportunities in Nigeria?

The need to accelerate our transition to digital is essential and presents an opportunity for growth. The world is fast moving from the conventional way of doing things, and with the outbreak of the pandemic, we have seen that we must move more quickly. During the early days of the pandemic, digital means of communication ensured that the day to day running of many businesses and the economy did not have to stop, thereby preventing additional business losses. Providing access to finance through innovative financial technology solutions is another opportunity area. It benefits vulnerable groups by fostering better socio-economic outcomes, supports the government’s economic and financial inclusion objectives and supports the activities of other conventional financial institutions.

IoT/5G/Cloud Hope – or Hype?

This is definitely “HOPE” for Nigeria and the rest of the world. I say this because of the potential to improve living outcomes through job creation and help economies work more efficiently. As the world steadily moves towards digital even as the outbreak of COVID-19 has further accelerated the process, many countries, including Nigeria have now experienced some of the benefits of these innovations. These innovative technologies will enhance connectivity speed a hundred times faster than the current 4G networks blurring geographic and operational borders. It will support the delivery of healthcare services, improving remote diagnostic and treatment outcomes. It will also enhance socio-economic outcomes and experiences of everything digital, including financial services and the emergence of innovations, smarter cities and healthier people. At MTN, we fully understand the immense potentials of IoT, 5G and cloud, and we will continue to make the required investments to deepen and support the deployment of these technologies in Nigeria.

What trends in the industry right now excite and perturb you?

Over the last decade, the telecom sector has reinvented itself to match the rising demand for content and digital services. We are now comfortably in the age of smartphones which is widely affecting the reach of digital marketing, making it easier to understand consumer behaviour and allowing us as network operators to personalize our offers and products to meet customers needs and their expectations. Digital Marketing is taking our businesses far providing a better Return of Investments, and by having a clear understanding of our own customers’ journeys and experiences, we are now able to identify what’s working and what needs to be changed or improved.

How have you approached change amid the pandemic?

With the outbreak of the pandemic and the challenges, it was clear that the only way to remain on a growth curve was to quickly adapt and make quick decisions and changes that may have previously seemed impossible. As an organization that is committed to delivering value to all groups of stakeholders, we adopted a stakeholder-first mitigation strategy with a critical focus on employee satisfaction, customer experience, shareholder satisfaction and family life. Our approach has been adapting to the changes, making critical decisions quickly, investing in critical infrastructure, investing in our people, our community – especially vulnerable groups and supporting the government in all its efforts to limit the adverse effects of the pandemic.

What do you hope to achieve in your current position?

Since my appointment as the COO of MTN Nigeria, I am proud of the collective success we have achieved prior to and after my appointment. It is that solid foundation that I am riding on and will continue to ride on to deliver and achieve sustainable results. Throughout my stay, I will continue to provide the necessary leadership and direction to our commercial and technology functions while harnessing new and existing technology to deliver the best customer experience and accelerate digital innovation for shared prosperity for the nation. This is all towards achieving the end goal of leaving a legacy that successive leadership teams can leverage for the continued growth of the business that impacts the Nigerian economy positively.

As 50% of Nigeria’s population is below 18, we need to be resilient and speak the language of the new generation.  We are a well-known brand in the country. Still, we need to play in the space of the young generation, and we need to adapt ourselves to their language, without losing the relationship and interface we have established with the current generation.

How do you plan on accelerating business growth?

In accelerating business growth, we are guided by the principle of shared value and prosperity because we believe that the success and growth of our business are linked to the success, wellbeing and development of the communities in which we operate. Therefore all of our growth strategies are targeted at identifying and investing in opportunities that bring about positive and sustainable impacts for the people and the government. We will continue expanding our network services to ensure more rural communities are connected. We will leverage our quality of services and new technologies to continue increasing smartphone penetration in the country and enable existing and new users to join the digital world. Our commitment remains to play our role in leading the private sector contribution to the digital economy and financial inclusion. By doing so, we will make the necessary investments in our critical infrastructure, expand our network and support the Nigerian government’s goal for digitization.

Describe yourself in three words?

Stay humble and be persistent; success will follow!

MTN continues to empower young entrepreneurs in Nigeria. What has been the most recent initiative and how successful was it?

A recent youth empowerment initiative is the Revv Programme which was designed as a give-back initiative to address the critical needs of SMEs during the COVID-19 period and in the aftermath. We are targeting 10,000 SMEs and have been delivering a series of business-related masterclasses, advisory services, marketing and technology support services. The ongoing Y’ello Star is also a youth targeted initiative which provides a platform to discover, nurture, expose and launch music talents in young Nigerians.

Through the MTN Foundation we deliver ICT and business skills training to young people between the ages of 18 – 35 with the aim of improving their chances of gainful employment. This we deliver with some of our ecosystem partners, including Oracle, Google, IBM, KPMG and Digital Bridge Institute (DBI). We also provide scholarships to eligible 200 level students studying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses and also to 200 level blind students studying in public tertiary institutions across Nigeria.

What’s next for MTN Nigeria?

In the coming years, we will continue to explore ways to ensure that our customers have the best customer experience and will implement our strategy with a major focus on fintech and digital. The next three years will see us invest about N600 billion to expand our network and accelerate digital transformation, and support the Federal Government’s broadband initiative. We will continue to invest in our infrastructure to deepen access to technology and accelerate financial inclusion for underrepresented groups.

The industry will continue to be a key driver in the transformation of lives – both in the business and personal space and with no doubt, the telecommunications industry will continue to be a catalyst for economic development. The future is bright and very promising, especially with the very young generation forming the bulk of the population. This is a huge potential because all these young people will rely more and more on access to communication and digital services. We are confident that together with all our partners we will drive Nigeria to the next level and ensure that jointly we will address the digital economy agenda.

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Interviews

Raghid Charara, Vice President and Khaled Chatila, VP of Business Development at ANALITICO

Inside Telecom Staff

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Analitico

ANALITICO is a newly established ICT company offering customized solutions for the telecoms and IT sector and providing full Digital Transformation services.

Inside Telecom sat down with the VP of ANALITICO Raghid Charara, and the company’s VP of Business Development Khaled Chatila for a closer look into their work and the prospects offered by the company.

Let’s jump right in.

Gentlemen, please introduce yourselves and tell us how ANALITICO was formed?

I am Raghid Charara, an expert in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) with over 20 years of experience in managing big projects covering both the telecoms and banking Sectors in different regions of the world.

I hold a double degree in Statistics and Computer Science from the American University of Beirut (AUB), and I am an alumnus of INSEAD having completed several executive education certificates in leadership, general management, and transformation. In addition, I work as a learning coach at INSEAD, teaching different courses such as innovation, strategy, and FinTech to MBA students and high-profile executives.

I am Khaled Chatila, a senior Operations and IT expert with a diverse experience in management and technology. Throughout my career, I assumed different managerial roles centered around operations and information & communication technology such as information security, system administration, IT management, software development, networking, and telecoms.

I also worked in different fields such as education, logistics and manufacturing in a handful of different countries. I spearheaded digital transformation as well as developed and integrated IT solutions which increase efficiency. I hold a Bachelor’s in computer science from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and a master’s degree in information security from the University of London, Royal Holloway.

We have been friends for a long time and we both share a passion for technology. We were always keeping up with and closely following the telecoms market trends, from there we identified several gaps which we were confident that we could cover through our knowledge, experience, and know-how.

When the right time and conditions came our way, we were able to create ANALITICO using our individual long track records in ICT and management, our synergy at work, in addition to our wide range of exposure and rich portfolio of relationships. The company was creating alongside world-class professional executives with accomplishments in business on international scale under their belts.

ANALITICO’s offering provides a set list of services, what areas of operations currently interest you the most?

We provide customized and innovative turn-key solutions that assist and empower different sectors including governmental institutions, banking, and telecom sector (government, regulators, and mobile operators).

Our portfolio includes services such as digital transformation, Equipment Identity Register (EIR), International Traffic Management, Carrier Services, Fraud Management Solution (FMS), Technical Audit (TA) and Revenue Assurance (RA), Traceability of Items (mainly for pharmaceutical, tires, and many others), and Value-Added Services (VAS).

Our offering can be on Premises (OnPrem) or Cloud-based and can cover Software as a service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS). We believe in the power of data and we heavily focus on the outcome and patterns extracted from Big Data through our analytical tools and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.      

Each one of our team members, has a long track record of projects and has deployed different kinds of solutions in different parts of the world. Most of the projects we’ve done are located in West Africa (Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Mali, and Togo) and Central Africa (Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Cameroon) and some of them in the Middle East (Kuwait, Oman and others) as well as other projects in different parts of the world (Latin America and APAC).

Several of our completed projects, were originally outsourced to us by local companies in those countries or through third parties. The interesting part is that our solutions and services are universal and needed worldwide and there are no geographical limitations or barriers. We have offices and representatives in several regions, mainly: London (UK), Paris (France), Beirut (Lebanon) and Douala (Cameroon).   

From a competitive standpoint, how does ANALITICO stand out in the face of its competition?

We use the latest technologies and the best tools and methodologies, and our team is composed of experts that hold the highest certifications in their fields. We are flexible and adaptive to our client’s requirements thus making our solutions competitive and affordable, yet, we always add our innovative recommendations bridging between different fields and technologies while offering state-of-the-art solutions.

Our long track record and wide experience and knowledge enable us to provide custom made solutions that ensure our customers’ satisfaction and always deliver far more than what the customer wanted initially; that’s the essence of transformation, as opposed to change.

Our company culture believes in “customer obsession” opposed to “customer focus.”

Is your business strategy keeping pace with the market? What challenges are you facing at the moment?     

Technology is evolving fast and there is a high demand for digital transformation.

The challenges we face come in two-fold; the first being to always keep up with the swiftness of technological advances, new services, and innovations. While these are manageable, we consider ourselves to have the right setup, tools, and mindset to adapt, expand, and introduce changes as we go.

The second is more client-oriented, where we can group the challenges in 3 categories: resistance, culture, and budget.

Usually, employees of companies undertaking a transformation resist the introduction of new solutions and methodologies and they fight back. We ensure to communicate, train, and involve them in this transformation journey and provide all the coaching needed.

Next, some companies’ cultures are robust and do not facilitate transformation and we always need the support of the top management and the flexibility in introducing new processes to enable the change.

Finally, is the budget, as companies see it as a big bulk one shot amount, and to resolve this point, we provide a comparison showing them the cost of the traditional setup they have over 5 years versus the cost of the transformation and the cost of the new digital setup for 5 years and they can clearly see the difference.

The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the pace of transformation. To what extent will digital workspace growth push cloud adoption and spending?

Since cloud computing empowers digital business transformation, the cloud became the catalyst for this transformation. It is used to improve the scalability of the capabilities while reducing cost and risk. So, it is a crucial element since the success of the transformation relies on it.

We fully understand this need, and that is why we tailored our offering to include the three main service models of cloud computing: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).

How do you plan on accelerating business growth?

To accelerate our business growth, we ensure to include the key skills and resources that are needed for our continuity and success. We believe that employees are key assets and part of the

journey, and we strongly invest in our team while embracing continuous learning to ensure they are up to date with the latest skills and technology trends.

As explained above, our business model allows us to be adaptable to the technology changes and at the same time to our clients demands and given our agility we can easily accommodate this and always expand our products and services. Finally, we believe that we should always think ahead.

Telcos across the world have suffered heavily due to cyberattacks especially since the pandemic began, how can your services help providers defend themselves against such threats?

First, it is important to highlight that cybersecurity is a combination of technologies, processes, and practices that we work on heavily and deeply. In parallel, we encourage our clients to follow the top-down approach to cybersecurity where management leads the line across all business practices.

We focus with our clients on identifying the threats and risks facing their data and information; and outlining the damage their organization would incur should that data be lost or wrongfully exposed.

We also analyze how was the data collected, stored, and secured, in parallel, our cyber security offerings include Encryption, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Access management, Firewalls, Anti-virus and anti-malware solutions, Web filtering and Risk and compliance management. Those solutions can be in-house or outsourced, while providing security as a software as a service (SaaS), available via the cloud. To reach out to ANALITICO: info@analitico.tech.

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Interviews

Michel Robert, CEO of Epsilon

Inside Telecom Staff

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Michel Robert, CEO of Epsilon
Tell us about your partnership with Aviatrix to provide the latest multi-cloud networking service?

We recently partnered with Aviatrix to deliver our own multi-cloud solution. It’s an end-to-end multi-cloud service running on Epsilon’s global network with the automation, operational visibility and control that enterprises need to simplify cloud networking.

Epsilon Cloud Networking addresses the real challenges in enterprise networking within and across the clouds. We’ve combined our expertise in global connectivity with Aviatrix’s cloud orchestration platform to deliver an end-to-end multi-cloud service, and we’re confident in delivering a best-in-class cloud networking solution for our customers.

This year we’re really focusing on our partner strategy. We already have a strong ecosystem of networks, cloud service providers and internet exchange partners stretching across 260+ points of presence (PoPs) in 41 cities globally.  We are looking to enhance our services by working with great technical partners, like Aviatrix, to enhance our interconnection services. There are not many companies out there that can offer their customers the comprehensive end-to-end solutions like we do, with rapid responsiveness and one point of contact.

How can Epsilon customers benefit?

Our solution makes multi-cloud networking simple for enterprises. Epsilon Cloud Networking leverages a multi-cloud network architecture with a common network data and operational control plane. Through point and click workflows and infrastructure as code automation, enterprises using the multi-cloud service no longer need to undertake the complex and manual processes of native cloud networking. The service provides everything an enterprise needs to transform their cloud networking through a single relationship.

Our solution really accelerates cloud network deployments to support the pace of business and application owners, which is a key benefit for customers. Our customers can move faster to meet demands at the click of a button. This provides full visibility across the clouds, simplifies their cloud network operations and can identify and resolve problems rapidly.

Security and troubleshooting are also a big part of the solution. Our managed service provider and enterprise customers can easily solve multi-cloud networking, security and troubleshooting issues. The multi-cloud network architecture has a common network data and operational control plane that gives them the full control they need.

What kind of challenges do you hope to overcome with this new multi-cloud service?

More and more enterprise IT organisations are using public cloud to support business transformation. The pandemic has really increased the pace of transformation for many companies, and enterprises are facing challenges including limited visibility, lack of network control and skill gaps, when connecting applications and data in the cloud.

A lot of enterprises don’t achieve expected return on investment (ROI) in cloud because of operational and network complexity. While many enterprises have started application migrations to the cloud, cost management remains an issue. On top of this, many cloud providers don’t provide the tools for operational visibility, control or security. Our new multi-cloud solution seeks to help businesses tackle these challenges more effectively.

It makes cloud networking simple for enterprises, with everything they need to transform their cloud networking through a single relationship with Epsilon.

Is the multi-cloud environment suitable for all enterprises?

Yes. In general, all industries have adopted the cloud, but individual companies will have to assess which applications are the most suitable to migrate to cloud platforms depending on types of the business applications and data, security and compliance requirements.

Our multi-cloud networking solution can be used by all kinds of enterprises across verticals, from technology to automotive, manufacturing or hospitality. Any enterprise looking to benefit from a multi-cloud environment can simplify their journey by using our solution. We provide connectivity from the last mile locations all the way to the cloud.

Talk us through Epsilon’s Network as a Service (NaaS) strategy? How will it play a role in the enterprise market in 2021?

Infiny currently offers three powerful networking solutions: Interconnection between leading data centres, direct connection to cloud providers and access to the world’s largest internet exchanges. We also have an Access solution for connecting branch offices, on-prem data centres and partner locations around the world to the Epsilon network and its cloud networking and interconnection services.

Infiny makes it much simpler for businesses of all kinds to meet their connectivity needs in one place, by removing the need to manage multiple vendor relationships. As the networking ecosystem gets more and more complex, I think businesses will be looking out for the simplest and fastest way to connect globally, which we’re able to do.

I believe in 2021, we’ll see drive towards platform-centric connectivity such as NaaS. These platforms deliver global connectivity using a self-service model, allowing the customers to buy and manage their network services on-demand.

By building solutions through partnerships, we can deliver best-of-breed solutions to our customers, more quickly and more scalable than if we had built the solution ourselves. Rather than competing against specialists in certain fields, we believe in partnering with some of these companies to offer the best possible solutions to our customers.

Partnerships are a big part of our business strategy. Our differentiator is that we can offer our customers the best-in-class solutions with high levels of responsiveness and flexibility. A huge part of that comes from partnering with top companies across different tech sectors, which can provide us with the tools we need to serve even more of our customers’ needs.

Our goal is to enable businesses to connect to the global cloud infrastructure they need in a simple and powerful way. We’re excited to announce more partnerships that we’ve got planned for the near future, which will enhance our offering further.

The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the pace of transformation. To what extent will digital workspace growth push cloud adoption and spending?

2020 was definitely a year of transformation. With a surge in the number of people working from home, there’s been huge demand for digital workspace solutions. As a result, cloud adoption and spending has increased dramatically, and it’s looking like this will continue in 2021. Remote working will start to become the new normal as businesses of all kinds have realised this year that productivity can continue even without having teams in an office all the time. It will definitely be interesting to see how this accelerates cloud transformation in 2021 – I think we’ll continue to see growth, but at a steadier pace than 2020.

How does the new networking service enable customers to meet their security needs?

Our Cloud Networking solution provides enterprises with added security for distributed cloud environments. To get into the details, it offers advance security features including multi-cloud network segmentation, high-performance encryption, firewall insertion, CloudWAN, secure user access, secure site-to-cloud and ingress and egress. We provide all the tools that enterprises and managed service providers need to secure their customers’ cloud deployments and benefit from a multi-cloud environment, via our private network.

What are some of the unique challenges we face with cloud adoption?

Cloud adoption isn’t always straightforward, especially when enterprises are trying to connect within and between multiple different clouds and regions. Some of these challenges include skills gaps, limited visibility, lack of network control and operational complexity. Not all enterprises are experts in cloud, so without an expert partner it can be difficult to really unlock the potential of their cloud environments.

Many enterprises have invested large amounts of resources in building business applications within a public cloud environment but end up neglecting the connectivity underlay. Any application performance will ultimately be underpinned by the network it’s delivered on. Enterprises are needing more than basic connectivity from the standard internet connections, and that can be a challenge without the right partner.

 How will 5G rollout take cloud computing to the next level?

5G will be an alternative access technology for connecting the end users. It will contribute towards making a whole load of technologies more efficient, including cloud computing. With the rollout of 5G accelerating in 2021, cloud computing is really going to go to the next level. 5G can provide speeds 100x higher and capacity 100x more than 4G, on top of much lower latencies. This is going to transform customer experiences and improve business operations too.

I’m excited to see the impact of 5G on cloud-based applications and services, and just how much faster it will be to move data between locations. With better efficiencies come the opportunity to spend more time innovating too, so 5G could really be the key to new innovation in cloud native business and consumer applications that we don’t even know about yet.

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Interviews

Mohanned Alosta, CEO of Libyana Telecom

Inside Telecom Staff

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Mohanned Alosta CEO of Libyana Telecom
How has Libyana handled the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic? What were the main challenges? And how were they met?

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted the entire world, we, at Libyana, faced challenging issues on both the service providing and operation sides; however, we find ourselves in the right direction facing all of them.

On the service side, the lockdown naturally boosted network traffic, we were ready for this specifically since Libyana started network expansion in 2019, and continuously till this day, to ensure service quality for our customers. Our network expands simultaneously with users’ demand, maintaining the best user experience and enhancing it.

On the management side, our main focus centers on protecting our employees and partners aiming to minimize the risk of infection, by restructuring our operations throughout 2020, keeping only 30 percent of employees working from the office, with the remaining team working remotely.

At the same time, we utilized all solutions such as ERP, Online Dealer, Online Meeting to keep the business running normally regardless of all these circumstances. This proved to be an experience full of lessons learnt which will help us achieve our digital transformation plans.

In 2019, Libyana partnered with Expertise France to boost the local startup scene. Can you tell us more about this initiative? And what other efforts have been made to push startups forward?

Libyana gives special attention to innovation and entrepreneurship as a part of its social responsibility; the initiative with Expertise France aims to establish a first-of-its-kind center, which includes a business incubator and accelerator, called FabLab. In addition, we launched a new project, called Stream, offering all sorts of services and training to support entrepreneurs and MSMEs in Libya.

Stream provides training and support both technical and financial to 101 participants from 10 different cities through 7 programs over the course of 15 months. Through this project, 21 idea holders have managed to successfully transform their ideas into startups, while 76 percent of the startups that previously participated in the program stated that they experienced an increase in revenue following enrollment allowing for the creation of 126 jobs.

How are you planning to accelerate the company’s growth in 2021?

As the main telecom operator in Libya with all circumstances currently facing us and the telecoms industry, it is a big challenge for Libyana to keep stable growth in 2021.

First, as all online traffic increases due to lockdowns, we will focus on maintaining our network expansion and optimization efforts in an all-level capacity, capability, and stability, to be ready for any sudden traffic increase.

Second, we will continue our digital transformation journey for both our subscriber services and company operations, to improve the user experience and company efficiency during and after the pandemic.

Due to the effect of the on-going worldwide economic depression by the coronavirus, ARPU degradation is expected, thus, we are building more digital services to provide diverse service offerings to our subscribers.

With the African continent being heavily reliant on FinTech, are there any plans for Libyana to jump into the financial services sector?

As part of Libyana’s vision of enhancing our customers’ lives by connecting people in every way shape or form, we are planning to enter the FinTech sector by offering several solutions such as mobile money and online payments, which are part of our digital transformation strategy. The financial sector in Libya faces several issues, which is why our aim is to fill this gap and connect all Libyans on the financial scope as we do in telecommunications.

With 5G being the talk of the town in the telecoms industry, can you tell us about Libyana’s 5G efforts within the country?

Libyana is ready to embrace 5G, where the current network supports 5G evolution smoothly. Currently, we are analyzing the best business models for 5G and its application for Libya’s needs, as we are aiming to provide excellent service experiences and best service value to all Libyans.

Are there plans for the company to expand outside of Libya?

Currently, we are working for more cooperation with global operators to improve the subscriber roaming experience. For the time being, expanding into other markets is not considered a top priority on our list since times are still fragile due to the economic recession and the COVID-19 situation, but we continue to keep eyes on the global situation and all opportunities around us.

As technological advancements such as 5G, IoT, AI, AR, VR, and the like are starting to hit the mainstream, which one interests you the most? Why?

Both 5G and IoT are our highest priority, where the demand for M2M and massive data has drastically increased. A massive country such as Libya, which mainly leans on its oil and gas industry, needs to discover new opportunities in order to be ready for the 4th Industrial revolution.

Cybersecurity has become a must for all ICT/tech companies, especially during the COVID-era. How has Libyana strengthened its defenses against cybercriminals?

Cybersecurity is one of the highest priorities for us at Libyana, as we have three lines of defense:

  • The first line is all employees implement self-control over the cybersecurity of products such as strong cypher, VPN, identity authentication, and so on.
  • The second line is identifying and protecting all the service units against any cybersecurity risks to systems, assets, data, and capabilities to ensure delivery of critical infrastructure services.
  • The third line is a Detect and Respond mechanism, implemented appropriately into our activities to identify the occurrence of a cyber breach and take action on it immediately.
What is your stance regarding the ban on Huawei in some countries?

We understand the decision of some operators to exclude Huawei, however, its worthy to note that the ban has caused an interruption within Huawei’s supply chain. This has made the Chinese telco enter “survival mode,” which makes it face uncertain risks within its network operations and evolution, especially to operators that exclusively purchase equipment from Huawei.

Huawei is considered a titan in the telcoms world due to its strong comprehensive strengths, which is why we, at Libyana, have constructed parts of our network with Huawei equipment. In parallel, we can only hope that the company resolves its disputes with the United States as fast as possible to avoid the operating risk of its customers, and to protect investments and maintain competitiveness in the 5G era.

How did Libyana weather the storm during years of war and a struggling local economy?

Nowadays, telecoms is considered one of the most important sectors in Libya, keeping our customers connected regardless of the current fractured society, providing services to the whole country during all crises.

In case of any force majeure, we do our best to solve issues immediately guaranteeing civilians the communication they need. As the ceasefire agreement was signed earlier this year, it is expected that next year the satiation in Libya will hopefully become better and Libyana will continue its work to provide stable services.

We do not only consider ourselves as a telecom operator, but more of a basic society service provider; thus, regardless of what happens, Libyana’s main target is to always guarantee high-quality service to our subscribers while maintaining our contribution to the country.

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