“In comparison to markets in the West, Smartphone penetration in Nigeria is relatively low at around 15%.”

Steven Evans is the CEO of Etisalat Nigeria.

The Com World Series team caught up with Steven ahead of the NigeriaCom conference and exhibition, taking place at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria, 17-18 September to find out a bit more about his experiences and focus at the event.

Com World Series: How is your company positioned in Nigeria and what are its future objectives?

Steven Evans: When we launched commercial operations in 2008, we had one goal in mind – to turn around the telecoms industry, exceeding every Nigerian’s expectation of what a telecom organization should be. We went ahead to develop Etisalat’ s business strategy based on four strategic elements – Innovation, Quality of Service, Customer Focus and Efficiency/Value for Money.

With these core pillars The Etisalat team operate on a daily basis with an outstanding sense of Customer Centricity – this along with Innovation (in products & services) has become the major positioning of the brand.

The Etisalat brand has also enjoyed an amazing affinity with the youth market to date and has a phenomenal percentage of its base between the ages of 18 – 24. Moving forward, we intend to continue to push this affinity with innovative products and services that speak directly to our customers.

Com World Series: What do you think are the top 3 major trends that are affecting your business in the region in 2013?

Steven Evans: The top 3 trends here can only be summarised with the phrase “Data, Data and more Data”!

As voice revenues level out, data, over well designed, well deployed, well managed 3G networks, is the next frontier for telecoms in Nigeria. Market growth in this 3G era is a major focus with over 55% (nearly 8 Million) of our subscriber base being data users.

This evolving behavior means the market, our customers need data-driven propositions, tariffs, content and Apps that provide a new and exciting communications experience. Recent launches like our very popular EasyFlex tariff, an exclusive partnership with award winning music App Spinlet and collaborations with major device manufacturers for low cost smartphones all tick our brand values of Innovation & Customer Focus ensuring improved data usage on the network.

The quality of our network, and therefore our service, is the key to unlocking the potential of our base and so we have a very aggressive focus on utilising the best possible network solutions to lead in this market.

Com World Series: How are Smartphones/tablets and cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in Nigeria?

Steven Evans: In comparison to markets in the West, Smartphone penetration in Nigeria is relatively low at around 15%.

Key to driving the goals mentioned above will be the right device choices for our customers. We recently launched a new, low-cost Android Smartphone with Chinese device manufacturer, Techno. This move puts more and more data-enabled devices in the hands of the Nigerian Subscriber, driving our market forward.

Com World Series: What are the remaining challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of service in the region and which technologies are most likely to resolve these issues?

Steven Evans: Power is the most disruptive issue for all mobile operators in the region.  The lack of a viable, existing structure for power and fixed-line telecommunications presents a huge challenge to network expansion and improvement. Moving forward, efforts must focus on feasible solutions to extend networks and manage traffic in the absence of these basic structures. Fibre, Wi-Fi and LTE will be key to reaching the market’s full potential.

Com World Series: Who are you most looking forward to meeting/hearing from and what do you hope to achieve from taking part in NigeriaCom?

Steven Evans: The concept of the event itself, bringing together the ecosystem of the Nigerian telecommunications market is an exciting one. Well done Informa! I’d have to say I am certainly looking forward to hearing from our Minister of Communications and the Regulator on how they will continue to successfully collaborate on driving this great success story. Inevitably, contributions from my operator peers will be insightful as we increasingly team-up to face some of our shared challenges. Finally, as this ecosystem expands, I’m excited to understand how we can better serve our client base with innovative partnerships on content and mobile functionality.

Find out more at NigeriaCom. Steven Evans will be leading the session “Keynote Panel Hosted by Etisalat” on Day 1 at 10:00.

Register here

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