Speaking exclusively to Telecom Review Africa during MWC 2023, Hossam Kandeel, vice president and head of Ericsson Global Customer Unit MTN, and Customer Unit MTN Africa at Ericsson, shared his company’s vision for enabling consumers, enterprise, and communities in Africa.
As a leader in technologies and services, how do you deliver value to your customers and enable positive change among people and within society?
At Ericsson, we believe that limitless activities can provide limitless possibilities for the lives of the people and for societies and economies. To do that, we focus on digitalization and bridging the digital divide. Doing this will enable people to perform better and have access to technology in a very efficient way and within a cost-effective manner. This can also help them innovate, perform at jobs that they are able to access, and also be able to realize their dreams by connecting with their loved ones and their businesses. Another dimension that we focus on is enabling enterprises to unleash productivity and efficiency to realize their ambitions. We do this by facilitating access of enterprises to technologies and through use cases that can help them realize the economic benefits of their businesses. Another dimension that we work in is regarding the environment and climate change. We are very committed to net zero targets by 2030. We are working on our product portfolio to make sure that it delivers the right efficiency and the least carbon emissions while realizing the performance required by consumers and operators.
Can you tell us more about MTN mobile money, which is powered by the Ericsson Wallet platform?
MTN is a big leader in enabling mobile money in Africa. We are working with them across 17 countries to enable its 284.9 million subscribers and 63 million active Mobile Money subscribers. And we enabled $250 billion in transactions, and that's a very huge amount of network transactions that are happening in the mobile money space. For us, mobile money is a very critical vehicle for empowering the lives of people, small enterprises and businesses to flourish and achieve transactions in a very efficient manner. We also enable mobile money by focusing on several layers of ecosystem enablement, not only as end-to-end solutions, but by helping individuals to innovate and regulators to regulate these environments with the proper security and proper considerations when it comes to performance and reliability.
From your perspective, how do Ericsson and MTN accelerate the growth of mobile financial services and encourage more innovation in Africa?
I think a very critical component is simplicity. We try as much as possible to make sending and receiving money as extremely simple as sending or receiving an SMS. It is an important pillar to make sure that this is adopted, especially for the underbanked people who have limited knowledge, capabilities and education, so that they can leverage it as a tool to improve their economic conditions and also facilitate transactions. Another aspect is dimensioning our system to meet the performance requirements so that it can work and function to capture the growth without any limitations and without jeopardizing people’s money on the economic system. Since this platform is regulated under the central banks with strict conditions, we have to lower the security aspects to provide the confidence to the regulatory environments and central banks that we are functioning in a way that would not jeopardize people’s money. So we work on several dimensions just to make sure that the adoption happens and happens fast, and we have been growing a lot with MTN in that respect.
How important is your presence here at MWC? And what are the target goals and future plans between MTN and Ericsson?
MWC is a great venue for sending our value propositions in the market and putting our thought leadership on innovation to the fore. We are committed to launching several products this year that aim to improve the higher capacity in the telecom environment while reducing the power usage. And pushing our products that are nearly 50% less weight as radio-sharing is a critical aspect in Africa. We are making several launches that promise the industry an environment to enable digitalization in the marketplace in Africa.
Are there any specific projects between MTN and Ericsson that we can look forward to in 2023?
We have a very long-standing partnership with MTN. We are very proud of how much we are aligning together toward awards. For example, we are enabling some innovations in the mobile money space and API enablement so that lots of innovators can access the platform to develop products and solutions around mobile money. Openness is very critical in this domain. We have been awarded for this initiative in the UK, and we are lined up for innovation here at MWC as well. We also have strong collaboration on 4G and 5G radio network launches that are very critical for us and them. We are also holding their core network at some of their most different markets, where we are facilitating their core networks to function efficiently to enable network slicing in the future. We are also working with them on the value propositions that they can push out in the market with charging and billing solutions; that is something that we are very happy to collaborate with MTN.