The pressure on the new chief executive officer of MTN Ghana, Michael Ikpoki, to consolidate the company’s gains as the network of choice for mobile phone subscribers will be no different from those experienced by his predecessor.

The telecom sector is arguably the most competitive in Ghana with industry players adopting various aggressive marketing strategies to attract and retain consumers.

But since the South African telecom giant MTN acquired a 100% stake in Scancom in a multi-billion dollar deal in 2006, the company has continued to dominate in terms of subscriber numbers and profitability. The new CEO simply cannot afford to allow MTN’s lead to slip in the face of new challenges.

“I will build on the positive legacy I inherited from my predecessor, Brett Goschen,” Mr Ikpoki told GB&F. “I will continue to build team spirit among employees. I have the conviction that the job can only be done if efforts are put in place to harness the inherent human potentials.”

He added: “I want to adopt an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to leadership. Indeed, MTN Ghana employees have received several awards in the MTN Global family and with team work and a can-do spirit we can achieve our goals.”

It has been less than five months since the new CEO assumed his new position and he is already relishing the demands ahead. Mr Ikpoki, a Nigerian who until his recent appointment was in charge of marketing and sales at MTN Nigeria, is hoping to draw from his experience in West Africa’s biggest and most populous nation to strengthen the MTN brand in Ghana’s unpredictable market.

There is no denying the fact that the future success of MTN operations in Ghana depends on the quality of service delivery to customers.

“Ghana’s market has its own unique dynamics and I am enjoying working with all the vibrant and innovative young people in the MTN family to help keep the pace of our  growth to reflect on our overall service delivery to Ghanaians,” he said.

“I believe that the success of MTN Ghana will depend greatly on our continued delivery of quality services to our esteemed subscribers, and this is what we have committed ourselves to doing.”

Currently, MTN Ghana controls about half of the mobile telecom market and Mr Ikpoki is expected to build on the numbers and at the same time make more money for MTN shareholders now that the market is nearing a saturation point. The task at hand seems even more daunting at a time when the telecom regulator, the National Communication Authority (NCA), has introduced the mobile number portability system, enabling subscribers to move across networks freely without losing their existing number.

Mr Ikpoki, however, is unperturbed and sees this as an opportunity to make his mark on the country’s telecom front.

He explained: “From the updates we received from the project leaders, we have done extremely well in the face of the challenges we are currently experiencing.”

“We see the introduction of the mobile number portability system as a new challenge in our business and in the industry. At the same time, we see it as a great opportunity to expand our services and welcome more people on board the MTN family to enjoy the best in telecommunication services on Ghana’s number one brand.”


MTN is leading the way in the mobile money sector

“MTN is fully committed to the mobile number portability process. We are confident that most Ghanaians who have been on other networks all these years will see this as a great opportunity to join our great network because we are best placed to continue to meet their evolving needs.”

He added: “We have realised that a lot more people wanted to be part of the leading and most innovative telecom service provider in the country but the fear of losing their numbers had prevented them from joining our fold. With this barrier now resolved, these people will be more excited to be part of the big MTN family.”

An invitation to join the MTN family is one that consumers find hard to resist in spite of the incessant flow of equally tempting deals from competitors in the market place.

Today, MTN is by far the most talked about and publicised network provider in the country when it comes to service offerings.

But that is understandable considering that it has more people on its network than any other mobile phone network provider in Ghana.



MTN - Going to great lengths to serve the nation

The company’s current investment in its network and the establishment of new customer service centres across the country are some of the things that have continued to endear it to the Ghanaian consumer.

Between 2010 and early 2011, MTN reportedly invested a total of US$285 million to establish two data and switch centres in Accra and Kumasi to boost network quality. An additional one for Accra is being considered and this is expected to provide even greater cost-effective and quality voice and data services for MTN subscribers.

“As you may be aware, we have consistently taken steps to enrich the lives of Ghanaians through our innovative products and services,” Mr Ikpoki said.

“There has been a quantum leap in the quality of our network service. Not only do we have the widest coverage and fastest internet speed but we also now consistently offer the best quality calls,” he added.

With mobile penetration at close to 70% in Ghana, voice growth is slowing down. The world of telecommunications is now edging towards convergence, offering subscribers the convenience of one-stop telecommunication solutions.

The largest growth opportunity now lies in mobile data. Last year, mobile data traffic worldwide nearly tripled in comparison to 2009. This sums up the future growth strategy of MTN in its efforts to maintain its leadership position on Ghana’s telecom front.

“Our experience in Ghana was similar although of a very low base. With internet penetration in Ghana being less than 5%, there is obviously huge potential for growth. Mobile data is currently, and will increasingly become more so, the focus of MTN Ghana in the future,” Mr Ikpoki said.

With the launch of MTN Business, designed to help businesses meet the challenges of operating in a technologically driven global environment, corporate clients stand to benefit from much faster and reliable internet connectivity.

Mr Ikpoki believes that the company is on a carousel of delivering innovative products and services.

“MTN was the first to launch the Blackberry service in Ghana three years ago and we were the first to introduce the mobile money service, which allows our subscribers to transfer money, top-up their units and pay DSTV and ECG bills,” Mr Ikpoki pointed out.

“Our dynamic tariffs (MTN Zone) are the first in the world and remain a novelty in the industry. We were also the first to introduce the first blade cluster technology in Africa. Our ability to be technologically savvy is just as important to us as being socially sensitive and, through the extensive work of our MTN Foundation and over 1,700-strong group of dedicated employee volunteers and (the) Ghanaian governmental and non-governmental partners, we are investing heavily in socially and economically relevant health and educational projects with sustainable, positive impact for the communities we live and work in.”

In the next few years, the MTN Group will once again reshuffle its top management positions across the continent, and that means Mr Ikpoki’s stay in Ghana is temporary.

But just as with the previous chief executives of MTN Ghana, there is only one thing that Mr Ikpoki wants to be remembered for when the time comes for him to move on: “A robust industry leader that continues to provide its customers with quality voice and value-added services.”