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MTN’s agility for the digital age

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By Brian Yatich

For someone handling a multi-national company, Kennedy Chinganya is disarmingly charismatic and friendly. Modesty comes naturally by him as he ushers us into his refined office.

Chinganya is Managing Director, MTN Business Kenya. Joining the Kenyan outfit in 2015 he was tasked with improving governance in the enterprise business across all company operations.

He has vast experience in the ICT sector having worked with IBM for 14 years before joining Microsoft Africa for another 5 years.

Setting up business in Kenya has not been an easy task for the firm. But with experience from operating in other African markets, this was not a bother.

“Our strategy has been tailoring our identity in innovation solutions to meet the latest market needs and being on top of technology, MTN Business Kenya currently focuses on enterprise solutions because we are futuristic. We project future disruptions and we have aligned our approaches accordingly to help businesses optimize their potential,” Chinganya says.

With its headquarters in South Africa, the firm offers network services in cloud solutions, voice and data centre services to the financial services sector, telecommunication companies, government, corporate sector and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“In 2010, we bought UUNET previously owned by Verizon Wireless, an American company providing broadband internet, and rebranded it to MTN Business to provide world-class solutions with our core objectives in opening up the region for business for Small and Medium Enterprises, the public as well as private sector,” Chinganya reveals.

MTN Kenya today has invested heavily on data center services over and above the normal connectivity.

“We have structured services that will suit customers across various stages of business growth. We have disaster recovery as a service, cloud infrastructure as a service and we can offer a virtual data centre,” he says.

Having started off with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) which allows businesses to connect in a superior-quality voice calls managed on a single network and routed to multiple branches, the firm has grown further to investing in data security, which Chinganya notes has started to become a big thing as more people want to go into a more secure environment.

“Data centers allow cloud computing, virtualization and convergence which ultimately lowers operational cost for companies in the country with fast access of data and company information,” he says.

Last year, the firm launched a tier III data center offering a dual redundancy, which provides MTN clients with robust remote computing capabilities.

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“I think the greatest achievement I can say is putting up a tier 3 data center, because when our customers walk in, it gives them that confidence that we care about them to have invested in this,” he says.

The facility, the second highest classification level for data centers ensures secure access of data everywhere for MTN clients which is available in the 25 countriesthe company has presence across the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

“That itself gives us an upper hand because of our single point of contact with our seamless service. And with the growing competitive landscape, every day we see new players coming on board, we decided to differentiate ourselves with the Tier III data center,” he points out.

Focus on SME’s

The MD alludes that 80 per cent of SME’s do not see their first birthdays, “this is because they do not have the right tools to be able to manage their organizations,” he says.

To counter this, MTN Kenya introduced “SMEasy” a cloud-based accounting tool that gives entrepreneurs with no accounting knowledge or training, the ability to perform crucial finance and related business tasks on the go.

The telco firm has also aligned itself for growth with strategic partnerships and alliances with key partners like Microsoft and Cisco who have journeyed with them to ensure their success.

The future is data

Chinganya says that the ICT industry has evolved very fast from voice to now data. “We have been in the voice business and I can say we have been champions, having gone to markets that no one has dared gone to; Yemen, Syria, Iran, Liberia, South Sudan and we have been successful,” he says.

And the main success in this has been on voice for the last 20 plus years. But we all know that today, voice is slowly dying as more people are consuming data. With tech disruptors like WhatsApp, Telegram, Vibe and even Skype taking over that space.

Chinganya reveals that there is a lot of inhibitors in the adoption of IT, in as much as there is an agenda of pushing for them. “Cyber security is a challenge, and of course the cost of data and connectivity has not dropped it is still very high with the already crowded telco market. We need to look at all those components and actually try to make it affordable in the market,” he says.

His advice, “We need to be constantly innovative. We cannot sit in a space which is always competitive and expect to hear it from someone and adopt it. We always have to embrace the “fast-mover” kind of an attitude. At MTN, constant innovation is very key to us,”

Looking into the future, Chinganya indicates that as MTN Business, they don’t want to look at it as operations between the borders of Kenya, but an organization that seeks to provide ICT solutions across the region.

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