4 Years of Connecting the Nation…….

Five years ago, there was only one mobile service provider in the country. It appeared inconceivable that the telecommunication giant would one day be challenged in a market they had conquered with such brute force. In an open market system, business competition is not only encouraged but promoted too. However, for a while eSwatini operated from a different play book and for decades we were stuck with one service provider much to the chagrin of business analysts and economists alike. The country was literally yellow, so to speak. Thanks to the pioneering work of giants like the late businessman Victor Gamedze and Inyatsi group Chairman Michelo Shakantu, Swazis have a plurality to choose which mobile service provider they want.

The heart-warming and fascinating story of eSwatini’s second mobile network, Eswatini Mobile, epitomizes courage, resilience and unparalleled optimism. Who would have thought that a country of approximately 1.1 million population would one day be a market for yet another mobile telecommunications company? Surely, it was courageous of these patriotic Swazis who stood tall against all odds not only to found but also to grow and advance a telecommunications giant in four years. Such unmatched resilience emanating from an incontrovertible recognition that it is through hardships that Eswatini Mobile has exercised its endurance and flexibility. As such, the company not only recognizes the challenges in the socio-economic landscape but, as it adds another year to its life; it also seeks to explore stories of progression beyond those challenges.

The 4th birthday of Eswatini Mobile marks a historic moment for the company especially its board, management, staff and country. The company’s leaders can look back with a sense of fulfilment on a journey well traversed. Back in 2016 it looked like a dream too impossible when the Eswatini Communication Commission (SCCOM) called on all interested companies to bid for the Third Telecommunications Operators License. Quite a number of people looked across the borders of the Kingdom for a successful bidder but when the winner was announced as a Swazi in December 29, 2016 it came as a welcome surprise to many. A year later, Eswatini Mobile went live and the history of telecommunications changed for the better in the country.

Questions were asked: will it succeed? Does it have the capacity to operate within such a dynamic and costly space? Will it have a market share? Well, fast forward to July 2021 and Eswatini Mobile looks on course to achieving its mission of connecting the nation to the world and the world to eSwatini. In 2020, the company announced the commencement of the second phase of its network expansion plan and was poised to deliver on the nation’s thirst for world network.

Eswatini Mobile Co-Founder and former Chairman Victor Gamedze chatting with the king during the company's first Trade Fair exhibition in 2017. On the far left is Zambian President Edgar Lungu.

Eswatini Mobile has extensively reported that the company has resumed a network expansion programme following the delivery of the first batch of equipment for 86 new 2G/3G/4G base stations and to date 63 have been deployed all over the county in all four regions. This obviously is good news to the thousands of the company’s customers throughout the country.

One would probably wonder what are the key indicators of growth and development of Eswatini Mobile in this four-year journey? Quite clearly it has to be the formidable leadership stability and the gravitas provided by the CEO, Jeff Penberton. Penberton benefits from working with an experienced team that has, in such a short period of time, increased the company’s market share in the economy significantly. In its maiden year, Eswatini Mobile had 106 base-stations covering about 57 percent of the population. This means within a year the company had covered over half the country’s population with clear mobile connection as well as fast data sessions. Over the years, Eswatini Mobile has optimised its network provision and this year have embarked on an ambitious network expansion program that is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Currently, over 63/86 new base-stations have been commissioned in all four regions of the country while a further 50 are still to be installed as part of this 2020 expansion plan. The company’s grand vision is to ensure that its network infrastructure results in over 400 000 Swazis comfortably using the ‘red’ network at reduced costs and high-speed network.

It is clear to all that the young company has made a bold promise to its customers as it celebrates four years and beyond. Eswatini Mobile promises to provide more data, more minutes, more coverage and more value to its customers.

Among other key milestones for the past four years:

● Eswatini Mobile continues to provide stable employment to over 100 Swazis directly and indirectly.

● Eswatini Mobile prides itself in its ability to provide more data, more minutes, more coverage and more value. As such Eswatini Mobile has coined a new slogan in keeping with this promise: More4U.

● Infrastructure investment continues to be of utmost importance for the company. Over 70 new base-stations have been added into its network while a further 80 will be installed by March 2022.

● The introduction of a mobile money entity in Eswatini Mobile called e-Mali in 2018 has been a monumental achievement, hardly a year in operation!

● Eswatini Mobile uses local subcontractors in its installation of different base station equipment all over Eswatini in its network roll out plan, these companies are Swazi owned.

● Eswatini Mobile has grown into an effective and trustworthy service provider over the years. Its aim is to continue to provide its customers with more.

● Currently Eswatini Mobile network covers 70 percent of the population.

NB: This article is an advertorial by Swazi Mobile as part of the company's four year anniversary