Europe > Northern Europe > Sweden > Shiletsi Makhofane, VP Marketing & Strategy, Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa,

Sweden: Shiletsi Makhofane, VP Marketing & Strategy, Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa,

2013/03/31

Ericsson started life as a telegraph repair workshop in 1876 in Sweden. Presently, it is one of the majority respected companies in the telecommunication and IT industry. glObserver catches up with Shiletsi Makhofane, VP Marketing & Strategy, Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa, to find out additional about Ericsson’s work in the continent.

Q: Africa is currently going through a rapid technology transformation, what do you think is Ericsson’s major contribution to the continent’s technology development?
A: Ericsson serves approximately 400 customers inclunding major network operators on the continent. We are responsible for the design implementation, maintenance and upgrade of these networks, and we as well offer end-to-end solutions for our customers. For example, Ericsson introduced an SSR 8020 platform for wireless IP core network in 1997, which saw the introduction of a prepaid solution. Prepaid has been largely responsible for the rapid uptake of voice telephony on the continent.
We as well provide connectivity to the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) - an initiative that uses ICT to help rural communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty - alongside proven interventions. Leveraging on innovative tools and technologies, the MVP that we are doing in partnership with Earth Institute at Columbia University is active in 79 villages, in 11 nations, and has changed the lives of over 500 000 people.

Through innovative use of ICT, Ericsson addresses challenges ranging from health, education, agriculture and business development. In 2010, Ericsson co-founded a world education initiative, Connect to Learn to leverage the power of ICT to bring high quality education to students everywhere. Today, additional than 40% of the world’s mobile traffic passes through networks provided by Ericsson. The networks we support for operators serve additional than two billion subscriptions. Additional than 2,000,000,000 subscribers around the world presently use Ericsson charging and billing solutions.

Q: Having been an established international technology company in Africa, Ericsson must have seen how the continent has evolved. What do you think is the major result of technology advancement in Africa, in term of financial inclusion?
A: In Africa, a lot of people are likely going to own a SIM card than have a bank account; this is largely due to unavailability of banking infrastructure and the relative relieve of getting connected. Mobile and broadband connectivity have drastically changed the money remittance landscape on the continent. Through mobile banking, friends and families can safely and securely send and receive money, pay their utility bills, schools fees etc. Mobile money has opened up a whole new industry and has incorporated people who have, until presently, no access to banking facilities.

Q: Having presence in major nations across the world, Ericsson must have a great considerate of consumers’ attitude and behaviour towards technology. As such, what do you think is the driver of technology consumption in Africa? Is it the same as the other continent?
A: Voice still accounts for the large chunk of traffic on the networks, but data is fast catching up. Internet penetration on the continent remains low, but its consumption is increasing steadily with the bulk of this consumption being driven by handsets. According to research conducted by Ericsson’s ConsumerLab, video will account for the bulk of the traffic on the network in the next few years. Consumers in Africa have the same needs as consumers around the world. They are looking for a seamless user experience such as coverage, the right pricing and products bandwidth so that they can tap into a host of telemetry solutions.

Q: There is a strong focus on mobile banking in Africa, what is Ericsson’s position about this industry? What role has Ericsson played in the development of mobile banking in Africa?
A: Ericsson is by presently an established player in the field of mobile financial transactions with 2.0 billion subscribers served by the company’s charging and billing systems. Ericsson works through partnerships with leading financial-services companies, such as Western Union, and as well has close collaboration with telecom operators around the world, providing an easy way for them to offer their subscribers mobile wallets. 2012 saw Ericsson and Western Union announcing a strategic agreement designed to accelerate the interconnection between the m-commerce eco-system and the existing financial world.
The prime step of this agreement will result in seamless platform integration between the Western Union Mobile Money Transfer network and the Wallet Platform enabling mobile operators to access the company’s world money transfer network of additional than 480,000 Agent locations across 200 nations and territories. M-commerce has the potential to stimulate economic increase on amount levels in Africa, which is presently on the frontline of innovation on the road towards the cashless society. Ericsson will continue to share this knowledge and experience with amount stakeholders in the region.

Q: What do you think is the next of mobile banking in Africa?
A: Ericsson believes that mobile banking has a promising next in Africa. We see mobile banking evolving as it matures and redefining the m-Commerce landscape. This is a technology that, to a large extent, is driven from Africa and is having an impact on how it is deployed in the rest of the world.

Q: Do you think mobile banking will finally replace ATM in the continent?
A: We believe there is a market that ATMs are serving and those served mobile banking. Often there is a cross-pollination between the two, which is great for consumers. We believe that ATMs and mobile banking cannot only co-exist but can thrive alongside each other.

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