Out of Africa

Golden sunsets, wildlife, safari – and in the middle of all that – Telenor. Surprised? Well don’t be, Telenor actually has a presence in Africa. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Global Wholesale’s Account Manager Andrew Ndambuki has his feet on the ground.

It’s about being close to the customers

Amine Abou-Jaoude

Global Wholesale has had business in Africa for more than a decade, but it is the first time someone has been employed locally in the region. Amine Abou-Jaoude, Regional Head of Middle East & Africa in Global Wholesale pushed the idea: “Our business in Africa is heavily dependent on relationships and trust. Having someone local in the market who understands the culture makes a big difference, because they can see opportunities and know how to realize them.”

Succeeding step-by-step

Global Wholesale has established a presence several places outside the Telenor Group Footprint. Starting small, holding risk to a minimum and scaling up later in the process has been a success story both in the US (Miami) and Middle East & Africa (Dubai) – and East Africa, represented currently out of Nairobi, is full of opportunities. Andrew explains: “The region is still quite uncovered and subscriber numbers grow fast. Our main goals going forward are therefore to enforce our position with existing relationships as well as expand into new countries. This way we will be able to move fast going into the digital era, since existing relationships will make it easy to roll out upcoming services on top.”

If they don’t trust you, there simply is no business case

Business culture in Africa is best understood by the locals. “In Africa, business is quite different compared to the western world. We do not exchange cards and go straight to business. In Europe, business is driven by need. Here, people really only will work with you, if they trust you. Some people might think we are wasting our time, talking about the country side, food or the latest trends in music – but in Africa it is an important part of business to get to know your partners. If they don’t trust you – there simply is no business case.

Andrew Ndambuki

Eager to learn from Telenor

Africa also offers huge opportunities for Group initiatives. “Many of our partners are fascinated by Telenor’s vision to empower society, such as mobile health or agriculture. Just recently, I was contacted by the organizers of the Ministerial Conference on Data for Agriculture and Nutrition. They had heard about the initiatives in Dtac on digital farming and agricultural IoT and we were able to hook them up with the right contact person in Thailand. And this is a repeating trend: Once we get the opportunity to present Telenor Group and what stands behind us, we see a big increase in interest from the market in us.

Living by a responsible business conduct

Some of the biggest challenges in Africa are related to corruption and fraud. Some offers are extremely lucrative from a financial perspective, but they cannot be accepted, because they do not align with our code of conduct. “I am very proud to work for a company with such high standards when it comes to responsible business conduct. I also experience that many of our business partners highly value the way we do business.”

Nairobi city center – capital city of Kenya, East Africa