Vodafone made investments of EGP 7bn to improve the performance of networks and raise service levels in 2014 and 2015. The amount was part of a total EGP 10bn allocated to investment in the Egyptian market up to 2018.
Daily News Egypt interviewed CEO of Vodafone Egypt Ahmed Essam, who said his company is counting on added-value services as investment opportunities in the Egyptian market. These include money transfer services through mobile phones and cloud computing services.
What are the main elements of your strategy in the Egyptian market?
Our main priority is improving the company’s infrastructure to raise performance rates of mobile phones and expand our 3G coverage in governorates and provinces. Moreover, we are getting ready for the market’s challenges, which include power outages and the provision of diesel. We have prepared our networks in a way that enables us to provide 4G services once they are launched, where 80% of our networks are ready to offer 4G now.
What is the size of your investments in the Egyptian market?
Since last year, we have monitored investments worth EGP 10bn in the Egyptian market allocated for the next five years. The largest share invested in recent times was dedicated to improving the quality of the service, with almost EGP 7bn invested in this area, which achieved fruitful results. Our service quality can be compared to that of the European market and will be found equal to it.
What investment opportunities you can see in the Egyptian market?
We have invested in some added-value services like expanding mobile service coverage, especially 3G, in addition to investing in quality of the service through spreading branches and customer service centres. We currently have more than 1,300 customer-service centres compared to 500 centres in 2013. We are working on the communication process between customers and customer-service centres through phone calls, social-media websites, and chat services.
This is besides our investments in our own outsourcing company, which offers services to foreign markets with 3,500 employees. We are planning to increase the number of employees in the future. We also seek to provide solutions for companies, such as Cloud Computing, which helps SMEs to develop as well as money-transfer services through mobile phones.
How many customers use money transfer services via mobile phones?
We currently have 1.5m customers using these services.
Will the launch of 4G reduce data transfer prices?
The pricing of communications services in the Egyptian market basically depends on the competition, which depends on the price and quality of services. Therefore, the price of mobile services decreased due to the availability of three major international mobile operators in Egypt. The price of calls decreased from EGP 2 per minute in 2005 to several piastres today.
The prices of mobile services in Egypt are lower than global prices, whether of voice calls, text messages or data transfer. The Egyptian market has lower prices than Pakistan and India, while it provides network coverage comparable to the European market.
What is your market share in fixed internet services?
Our current market share does not exceed 7%. TE Data acquires the largest share, with approximately 70%, and the three other operator shares the remainder 23%.
What are your plans to increase your share in the ADSL market?
It is difficult to increase our market share in the ADSL services, because a significant part of the service we provide is reselling the service, which decreases our profit margin, and consequently makes it difficult to expand in investing in it. Moreover, the growth of our share is a subject to great extend to the plans of installing MSAN cabins and fibre-optic cables.
What are the suggested alternatives to the National Entity of Infrastructure?
These are not my jobs; it is the responsibility of the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority. However, the sector’s infrastructure must get some more investment. This can be done in more than one way, like establishing a company operating in the field of infrastructure, or enabling every company to establish its own infrastructure, or to keep the situation as it is: Telecom Egypt provides the infrastructure, establishing requirements and rules that oblige everybody to provide good service at fair prices.
The licenses you obtained to provide communication services allow you build infrastructure. Why haven’t you done that?
Yes, our licenses allow us to do so. However, there are more than 28 bodies we need to obtain approvals and permits from to work on establishing the infrastructure, which hinders us in carrying out our main role as a mobile operator.