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Dakar city: Dolphin Telecom development in west Africa


Francis Okoh the Commercial Director at Dolphin Telecom is a round peg in a round hole. The man, who is responsible for implementing sales and marketing strategies inclunding managing customer relations across West Africa, is a guru with business agreements with operators.

Francis, who is as well responsible for building new business partnerships between the ETG IS group with Local operators and international carriers on data over the ACE Submarine cable joined ETG IS (Dolphin Telecom) in March 2013 from Globacom-Glo1 Submarine cable unit. In his experience in Glo1 submarine Cable, he developed business agreements with a lot of local operators in Nigeria and other international wholesale carriers.

Francis whose career spans over 15 years in Technical, Product development, sales, marketing and business to business operations believe in clear strategy. He holds a Masters degree in Data Technology from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Executive Masters certificate in Project Management, SAP in Business Intelligence and Enterprise Management and Higher National Diploma in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Nigeria.

In this exclusive interview with MobileWorld, he bares his mind on the company’s operation, expectations, values, bandwidth and trivia. Excerpts…

Tell us about Dolphin Telecom?

Dolphin Telecoms is part of the ETG responsible for the management of the group investment portfolio on the ACE Submarine cable in Five West Africa nations of Senegal, Ghana Nigeria and Part of the SPV in Mauritania and Guinea Conakry.

For the records, ETG group is the second major investor in the ACE submarine cable and will act as the catalyst for wholesale capacity for Operators, ISP’s and high end enterprise customers.

Can you tell us additional about ACE operations?

The ACE (African Coast to Europe) submarine communications cable is a cable system along the west coast of Africa between France and South Africa managed by a consortium of 17 operators & administrations headed by Orange. The consortium agreement was signed on June 5, 2010. The cable was manufactured by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) and was laid by ships from ASN and France Telecom Marine.

The initial phase of the 17,000 km-long fiber optic cable was put in service on December 15, 2012, with an official inauguration ceremony held on December 19, 2012 in Banjul, The Gambia. May this year witnessed the landing of the cable in Ghana and commercial take off.

The ACE Cable will from presently on connect 23 nations, either due for coastal nations or through land links for landlocked nations, like Nigeria , Mali etc

ACE is the initial international submarine cable to land in Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe and Sierra Leone.

With the existence of other cable companies, what are the price propositions with Dolphin telecoms?

For us our strategy is very clear. That is collaboration and partnership with our customers being the ONLY cable operator that is not playing in the low end capacities. Our major focus is efficient service delivery and excellent support. It will as well promote internet usage and increase internet penetration in the country through smart partnerships with local ISPs, thereby boosting economic increase.

When do you think we should start reaping the benefit of landing cables in West Africa?

I would rather put the question this way—- What have the business community of West Africa benefitted from multiple cable operators? This is completely huge from the macroeconomic level. If you look at the cost of Bandwidth in the last 5 -7 years and presently, you would realize that there has been a drastic drop in price and what this translates to, is reduction in cost of doing business from the service providers’ perspective and increased data penetration in West Africa Business Community. And for the end users, exchange of data is presently faster particularly with the mobile devices and this trend will continue in years approaching.

Who are your consortiums and partners on this project?

African Coast to Europe Cable (ACE) is a consortium of a lot of cable operators inclunding France Telecom, ETG Group, Cotdvoire Telecom, Portugal Telecom, Government of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, Togo Telecoms and other cable operators with an in general investment of over US$700 Million the fibre-optic cable, which is 17,000 km long, connects 23 coastal and landlocked nations through terrestrial links and is the initial cable system to connect seven African nations in a stretch.

Should we expect reduction on cost of international bandwidth with this development?

Like I said before, this has started happening with the arrival of a lot of operators and the benefits is obvious in terms of penetration and ARPU. The challenge in terms of cost is not on the International segment but terrestrial links as cost per Mbps continue to rise on this segment thus inhibiting penetration particularly in the hinter lands.

Have you started commercial activities in Ghana and at the same time as are you landing in Lagos, Nigeria?
Yes we have started preliminary operations in Nigeria but full scale operations will start in the last quarter of 2013. In Ghana, we have full scale operations and have indeed connected a lot of customers. We are as well fully operational in Senegal.

Do you have any major challenges so far?

Not at the moment, but as with any other business and human endeavour, challenge is part of live and it is anticipated.

What are your expectations in five years time?

Obviously to be the leading wholesale provider in the continent acting as a back end support to operators and ISP’s to increase data penetration.

If you had three wishes what would they be?

To continue to work for God, for humanity, and leave a footprint in the industry.

How do you relax?
Watch football, go out with my family and hang out with Committee of Christian friends

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