Q&A: Orange exec Bruno Mettling on the operator's expansion into Liberia
Last week, Orange, one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators, announced the launch of its brand in Liberia. On 18 May 2017, Cellcom Liberia became Orange Liberia. The acquisition of the Liberian operator Cellcom was finalised by Orange, through its subsidiary Orange Côte d’Ivoire, on 6 April 2016, allowing the Group to reinforce its presence in West Africa.
In line with its Essentials2020 strategic plan, Orange has built up a considerable presence in this region - a strategic priority for the Group’s development.
To find out more about the Liberia launch African Business Review chatted with Bruno Mettling, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, in charge of Operations in Africa and the Middle East (MEA).
Why has Orange chosen to expand into Liberia?
Orange sees Liberia as a key market in which to reinforce its presence in West Africa. Orange is present in 21 markets on the Middle East and African region today. We finalised the acquisition of the Liberian operator Cellcom through our subsidiary Orange Côte d’Ivoire, on 6 April 2016 and launched the Orange brand on 18 May 2017. With a relatively low mobile penetration rate (70 percent of the population) the country has a growth potential for Orange. The other reason is that this company, founded in 2004, has been a precursor in terms of network deployment. In 2012, it was the first operator in Liberia to launch 3G (HSPA ) services following by 4G-LTE services in 2016. Orange will pursue this strategy and will continue to invest in the development of its network where the company is already a market leader.
How does the move into Liberia fit into the Essentials2020 plan?
Orange launches its brand in Liberia with the plan to invest and to provide high international standards. In this regard, Orange wants to develop an ‘unmatched customer experience’ through better connectivity, enhanced coverage and quality of service to the Liberian population and corporate businesses. It will provide its marketing expertise and world-class technical capability to strengthen the level of service delivered to its customers.
How will the expansion benefit the average Liberian?
The people of Liberia will benefit from Orange’s entry to the market in a number of ways, including better phone coverage. Since the acquisition of Cellcom by Orange in April 2016, the company has added 45 new mobiles sites (base stations). In 2017 the plan is to add 65 new mobiles sites.
There will also be faster data speeds, meaning download speeds and a smoother experience for example when viewing videos and gaming. To support this development and to anticipate growing customer expectations, Orange works to reinforce the quality of access to the Internet in the country by providing connection to the Group’s submarine and international cable networks
Liberians will also have access to new innovative products and services that have been tried and tested in other African markets and often designed in the region as well. One of the main examples is Orange Money, our flagship offer for money transfers and mobile financial services which is currently available in 17 African countries and has more than 31 million customers today.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.