By Esther Akinnukawe, Chief Human Resource Officer, MTN Nigeria,
Investors in People Certification is a recognition awarded to organisations that constantly seek to improve performance and realise objectives through the management and development of their people. Recently, MTN Nigeria was awarded with the highest category of the IiP certification, making it the first and only Nigerian company to achieve this feat. In this interview, the Chief Human Resources Officer, Esther Akinnukawe speaks about MTN Nigeria’s people management practices.
What is the IIP body and what does this award mean for MTN?
The full meaning of IiP is Investors in People. Being awarded a Platinum certification implies that MTN has a robust Employee Value Proposition as an organisation. IiP is an internationally recognised people management standard accreditation program and for us to have attained Platinum standard means that our Employee Value Proposition which I would subsequently refer to as EVP is strong and healthy. It attests to the fact that we are committed to supporting our employees in every facet of their lives. It also means that we are an employer of choice, it sustains the belief and understanding that we’ve had but with awards such as this, it cements the fact that indeed we are an employer of choice. These are some of the significances for us.
In 2013 MTN got the IiP Certification for the first time, moved on to clinch the Gold Certification in 2015 and now Platinum. Can you speak about this progression and how many other organizations in Nigeria hold this certification?
I am delighted to say that in Nigeria, we are the only organization that hold the IiP Platinum Certification. This is also a real testament to the fact that we have effective People Management Practices that have distinguished us. It might also interest you to know that internationally only 2% of organizations in 58 countries that IiP has assessed hold the Platinum certification. What it means is that internationally, including the United Kingdom and USA where IiP has a presence, we are in the top percentile of organisations with the best people practices. Continuous improvement is at the heart of IiP, it is the core of their philosophy so they do not just take your word for it, they interview employees, in fact there are five standards within the accreditation beginning from Standard, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
We started from Standard accreditation years ago in 2013, we got to Gold in 2015 and are now Platinum. It shows we have consistently focused on improving and each time we are re-assessed, the results are clear that we have not remained on the previous level but have sustained that standard and built on it. When they speak to our employees, they are able to share their positive experiences with the organization. There are nine dimensions for the accreditation and each dimension has various elements. Another interesting fact is that to be able to attain the minimum Standard accreditation, an organisation has to meet all the requirements of Standard, to attain Bronze one needs to meet all the requirements of Standard and about 95% of Bronze and continuous. For us to attain Platinum means we needed to attain all the requirements for Standard, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. We continue to meet and exceed expectations because of the doggedness and determination we have to make a difference in the lives of our employees.
The next time they are here to re-validate the accreditation, seeing as we have attained the highest level being Platinum, they may have to create Platinum Plus category for us because we are not resting on our laurels.
As someone who manages MTN’s Human Resources Team, overseeing the company’s EVP and staff strength, what does this say about you as a person?
Truthfully, my personal and leadership vision is to create an environment that inspires greatness in people while helping them unleash their own potential. However, I am not able to release the potential an individual carries, they are the only ones that can do this for themselves, but when I create an environment that enables them do so it means that we will be able to do superlative things collectively and the results will be awards such as this IiP Platinum certification. I am delighted to be leading the team but I am not completely in charge, I work with an amazing team. I also consider it a privilege to serve and to be able to lead the team, together we cascade the vision and mission required to move the organisation forward for the rest of the employees, it is really amazing and a great privilege.
As the HR Head, what would you say is the most important policy in people management?
It would be difficult to pinpoint one for an organization such as MTN and I say that with every humility. Between a few years ago and now, we have implemented over 60 initiatives and these are all impactful initiatives not just ticking the box. They are initiatives that our people have found enabling. What I would say is that the guiding philosophy for us is whatever policy or process or practice we put in place has to really achieve the set objectives and we carry out what is known as a post-impact assessment. Here, we check with our people and ask questions to find out if what we deployed is working. Should we continue or discontinue? If we should continue, how frequently should it be? That way we are able to work with the information from our community to decide on the initiatives that are working and the ones to be discarded. Continuous improvement is at the centre and at the heart of the IiP program, it is equally the norm for us.
Can you compare the current standard of MTN Nigeria’s Human Resources to global standards?
I am certain you are aware that MTN Nigeria is one of the OpCos of the MTN Group. We have about 22 operating countries within the MTN Group and our focus on best practices for people development in Nigeria is also very evident and clear at the group level. In fact, our strategy for the year is called BRIGHT and when broken down, B is Best customer service experience, R is Returns and Efficiency, I is Ignite commercial performance,G is Growth in data and digital, H is heart and mind and then T is technology where our network and technology would be categorised. The H is where HR comes in under Heart. We take it very seriously, and are focused on creating an unrivalled employee experience and engagement. We want employees to wake up in the morning and look forward to coming to work. We don’t want employees to keep thinking of excuses to run away from work and that is really what drives us and makes us do all that we can do to ensure that our employees are enabled to live their best lives whilst at the same time delivering value to the organisation. It’s a symbiotic relationship and HR is at the heart of it. We have excellent, experienced and highly skilled HR personnel, who keep their pulse on trends.
We are trailblazers so even if there is nothing new out there, we come up with fresh ideas and have implemented some of them in recent times. For instance, we have a talent incubation program which is our talent management program. We also hosted a Fireside Chat which is one of the bouquets of intervention under that talent incubation program. We brought industry captains such as Mrs. Sola David-Borha, the Chief Executive for African Region at Standard Bank and Mr. Leke Alder, President of Alder Consulting. They had a platform to engage with our Senior Management Staff, share from their experience and inspire our people. We are still receiving accolades till now for that event. In fact, this morning I woke up again to a lot of Kudos. Kudos are compliments on our internal MTN recognition platform called MTN Shine.
If there’s anything that one has done for the organisation that is good and nice, people can go on the Kudos platform and send you some Kudos points and the beautiful thing about the platform is that it is public, allowing other MTN employees to see and recognise the individual. Under Beyond Work, we focus on health and what we refer to as Club 0803 where we give discounted products and services to employees. We also focus on work-life harmony by providing wellness and concierge services. There are a lot more that I am unable to list now such as financial literacy trainings but like I mentioned earlier, between 2015 and now we have implemented over 60 initiatives.
HMD Brings Significant Step Change to its Smartphone Category
HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, has announced two new additions to its entry-level smartphone family, the Nokia 3.4 and Nokia 2.4, a new accessories range and HMD Connect Pro offering enterprises a secure and transparent global data roaming service.
The diverse range of launches further solidifies the company’s transformation into a holistic mobile device and service provider.
Florian Seiche, Chief Executive Officer, HMD Global said: “Without doubt, this has been an eventful year for everyone, and our hearts go out to those that have been impacted by the circumstances of 2020. For us, it’s truly been a transformational year, and we’ve adapted to the changing times.
“I am extremely excited to broaden our value-add services for enterprise with the introduction of HMD Connect Pro, offering unprecedented levels of flexibility and security. The Nokia 3.4 and Nokia 2.4 are important new updates to our core value smartphone range. I am very proud to see the truly future-proof 5G experience of our Nokia 8.3 5G reaching the hands of consumers starting from today, and excited for our partnership with No Time To Die – proving a Nokia phone really is the only gadget you’ll ever need.”
Introducing the latest additions to the Nokia smartphone family
The new Nokia 2.4 comes with AI imaging, two days’ worth of battery life and a large HD+ screen. For those looking for more, the Nokia 3.4 offers an advanced triple camera with ultra-wide lens, a serious performance upgrade and more screen real estate thanks to the punch-hole screen.
Holding true to always delivering maximum innovation at great value, the two new smartphones are entry-level marvels, offering great value experiences. With modern features and stunning design in a more accessible, Android-powered future-proof package, these phones are perfect for those seeking out affordable, long-lasting purchases.
Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer and Vice President of North America, HMD Global: “It’s no secret that consumers around the world have become more mindful about their spending and are opting for less expensive, more long-lasting products from brands they know and trust. It’s therefore more crucial than ever that our products stand the test of time – and our commitment to delivering reliable and trustworthy Nokia phones remains unswerving.
“That’s why we’re broadening our entry-level smartphone family with the new Nokia 3.4 and Nokia 2.4, offering reliable software and hardware that Nokia phone fans have come to know and love, fresh experiences and premium design that you can be proud of – at prices that are accessible.
“Always inspired by our Finnish roots, with these latest additions we’re introducing a fresh colour palette to the portfolio through new earthy tones with dazzling finishes, taking our design another step closer to home.”
The next generation Nokia 2 brings modern essentials like advanced AI imaging giving you dedicated Night mode and Portrait Editor that lets you art direct your world with its custom shapes and blurred backgrounds – even after you’ve taken your shot; a convenient fingerprint sensor and AI face unlock, offering effortless access and added security, in a durable design that’s not only built to look good but also to last.
Watch, learn and create on the large 6.5” HD+ screen and, thanks to its two-day battery life1, you’re free to enjoy your favourite apps and games for longer. Plus, the Nokia 2.4 comes with our Android promise, giving you three years of monthly security updates and two years of OS updates, meaning it’s ready for Android 11 and 12.
The new Nokia 3.4 offers a serious performance upgrade thanks to the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 460 Mobile Platform giving you more power to get the best out of your phone.
Take your creativity to the next level with a large 6.39” HD+ screen with a punch-hole front camera and a mighty triple rear camera with an ultra-wide lens and AI imaging. The Nokia 3.4 comes with Android 10 OS and the Nokia smartphone Android promise, receiving years of security and software upgrades.
All of this powered by the signature two-day battery life and wrapped up in a premium timeless design that comes in three new vibrant, living colours, inspired by Nordic nature, delivering style with durability that’s true to its Finnish roots.
Nokia 8.3 5G goes on sale globally
Today also marks the global sales start of the highly anticipated Nokia 8.3 5G. Showcasing the commitment to security, speed and innovation by meeting the demands of the world’s toughest customers – MI6 agents – the Nokia 8.3 5G is the smartphone of choice by the newest 00 agent in the upcoming James Bond movie No Time To Die, premiering this November.
Featuring a powerful PureView quad-camera with ZEISS optics giving you immersive movie-like shots with ZEISS Cinema effects and OZO audio, the Nokia 8.3 5G is the ideal smartphone for those who want to elevate their creativity.
Designed to support multiple and evolving 5G network deployments, the Nokia 8.3 5G condenses more than 40 different RF components into a single module, making it not only a global device but also a future-proof smartphone which is ready for the next step in 5G.
The Nokia 8.3 5G begins to go on sale globally from today starting at a global average price of 599 EUR. Additionally, all Nokia 8.3 5G owners will receive a free 6-month trial of Google One. Capture and edit on the go with faster upload speeds and an additional 100GB of online storage across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos – an all-in-one membership that can be shared with up to five additional people.
Lashana Lynch, who plays 00 agent Nomi in No Time To Die, said: “The world we live in now means we all have the ultimate gadget in our pockets and it’s amazing what smartphones can do nowadays. It’s exciting to be unveiling this new smartphone to celebrate the release of No Time To Die in November, and the Nokia 8.3 5G is proof that Bond gadgets are always ahead of the game.”
Introducing a range of new accessories: inspired by nature, packaged to protect it
Also launching is a range of new Nokia-branded audio accessories featuring the Nokia Earbuds Lite, and a brand-new Nokia Portable Wireless Speaker with integrated microphone – the first in the portfolio – and new protective cases. The new accessories are all wrapped up in sustainable packaging made from 100% recyclable paper, taking the company one step closer towards reducing the environmental impact of its business and products.
Alexander Lambeek, Global Head of Accessories, HMD Global: “Our commitment to delivering premium experiences at accessible price points extends beyond phones. Today we’re bringing the same quality you would expect from a Nokia phone to our new range of accessories.
“We are proud to introduce an entire mobile open ecosystem of companion products bringing exceptional functionality in a familiar design that our fans know and love, all wrapped up in eco-friendly packaging. We always listen to what our customers are after and take feedback as key component in product development.
“The new accessory range has been no exception to this – people are exercising outdoors more than before, so we made sure to make our earbuds waterproof; they have also become more mindful of what they’re buying, in terms of both cost and sustainability, so we made sure to keep the prices accessible and packaged everything in 100% recyclable paper.“
Nokia Power Earbuds Lite
The new Nokia Power Earbuds Lite let you take your favourite songs with you wherever you go offering 35h of play time and comfortable design with intuitive touch control giving you easy navigation whether it’s taking calls or skipping tracks.
The IPX7 certification will make them waterproof up to 1m for 30 minutes, meaning you can break a sweat in the gym or run in the rain worry-free, whilst the 6mm graphene speaker drivers give you clear-cut sound.
The original Nokia Power Earbuds are being refreshed with two new colours – Polar Night, inspired by the Nokia 8.3 5G, and a fresh new colour – Mint.
Nokia Portable Wireless Speaker
The Nokia Portable Wireless Speaker is designed to be truly portable and will give you up to 4h of play time, while the integrated microphone will make group calls on the go easier than ever. You can also pair two speakers for high quality stereo audio output. Just like all our audio devices, it comes with universal Bluetooth 5.0 compatibility, so you can connect to all your devices, whatever the brand.
Protection and support for your Nokia smartphone
The new accessory range also includes:
- Nokia Clear Case – for your Nokia 2.4, Nokia 3.4 and Nokia 8.3 5G – offering increased impact protection and enhanced handling via easy-grip material whilst the seamless ultra-slim lightweight design allows you to showcase your phone’s beautiful design.
- Nokia Entertainment Flip Cover for Nokia 3.4 with vegan leather delivers a functional solution for those who want more from their phone case – overall protection, screen cover, card storage and a foldable entertainment stand.
HMD Connect Pro: a secure and transparent global roaming SIM solution for enterprises
In a move that further diversifies the company’s services offering, HMD Global today announces HMD Connect Pro. Offering an easier way to stay connected across the globe, HMD Connect Pro offers an easier way for businesses to keep their smartphones and other devices connected across the globe in a secure and transparent way.
The service offers centralised SIM management, giving total control and fraud prevention, with securely routed real-time usage information, live diagnostics and troubleshooting.
With over 600 networks across 160 countries, HMD Connect Pro provides full flexibility, transparent and extremely competitive billing and a simple yet robust SIM management console at rates that match your usage needs regardless of how many countries your business operates in.
4G Advancement in Ethiopia: A Milestone in the Country’s Telecom Landscape
By Abiye Yeshitila
Ethiopia is on the verge of massive digital transformation, as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, which is being led by consumers who, today, have access to more devices and are more connected than ever.
The ICT market in Ethiopia is constantly evolving, and telecommunication providers have to offer products and services that meet their customers’ demand for high speed data connectivity.
The first months of 2020 saw the spread of a novel coronavirus around the globe. Subsequent behavioral changes due to lockdown restrictions caused measurable changes in the usage of both fixed and mobile networks.
In Ethiopia, access to mobile communication has expanded rapidly. Proliferation of smartphones and tablets have increased data traffic exponentially, driven by the rise of video content. Explosion of mobile broadband is set to create new demand and an upsurge in household consumption of mobile internet is expected to provide continued impetus to the sector.
Enabling broadband connectivity for all is a basic human right and we know that for every 1000 new broadband connections, 80 new jobs are created (Ericsson and Arthur D. Little). A 10% increase in mobile broadband adoption secures 0.6-2.8% GDP growth (Ericsson and Imperial College) and a doubling of average achieved broadband speed generates an additional 0.3% GDP growth (Ericsson, Arthur D. Little, Chalmers University).
To keep up with increasing demand for data capacity, service providers need a fast solution. They are playing a key role in enhancing networks and paving the way for next generation of mobile connectivity.
Faced with limited spectrum assets and a need to provide the best user-quality network, many service providers have launched 4G LTE networks. LTE simplified the network and increased spectral efficiency significantly while driving down costs. It is the first mobile system that is designed for mobile broadband from the start. Some of the use cases it has enabled include:
- Enhanced local-area access through network densification
- Machine-type communications, providing efficient connections for non-human centric such as burglar alarms, power meters etc.
- Device-to-device communications, where direct communication between wireless devices is enabled in a peer-to-peer mode
Consumer devices dominate for 4G. Despite strong initial hope for laptops as a driving device, it was the app-enabled smart phone that became the killer device. Mobile phones have moved from a communication-centric device to a multi-purpose smart personal companion. Smartphones will continue to see growth and more data-centric offerings are forecast to enter the market.
The latest mobility data shows that LTE accounted for around 11% of subscriptions in 2019 in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile broadband subscriptions are predicted to increase, reaching 72% percent of mobile subscriptions by 2025. LTE share will reach around 30% by the end of the forecast period, and LTE subscriptions are set to triple, increasing from 90 million in 2019 to 270 million in 2025.
Championing current demand, 4G brings major improvements in terms of coverage and capacity, offering download and upload speeds many times greater than those achievable with earlier technologies. In addition, support for Machine-Type Communications (MTC) and Internet of Things (IoT) in cellular networks is being drastically improved with the launch of 4G LTE.
Ericsson’s services, software and infrastructure – especially in mobility, broadband and the cloud – are enabling the telecom industry and other sectors to do better business, increase efficiency, improve the user experience and capture new opportunities. We have done business in Ethiopia for a long time – since the sales of telephone receivers commenced in 1894.
Ericsson is devoted to support the development of Ethiopia’s telecom industry, leveraging our global expertise and technology leadership. We are working together with service providers in Ethiopia to ensure rewarding new user experiences for Ethiopian consumers in the new connectivity era as part of our mission to empower Africa’s technology-enabled economies and keep #AfricaInMotion.
What consumers want
Consumers have gone through a massive digital evolution in a short span of time and people today are staying online longer than ever before.
Our go-to technology devices have progressed from PCs to smartphones and communication has grown from voice to video and social networking services. Today, people are prone to behavior that involves reduced human interaction, with the advent of technological options such as e-shopping, e-selfcare and e-billing, to name a few.
The new consumer of today demands a seamless online experience across all the fronts whether it is a smartphone, a tablet, or other devices.
The 4G network in Ethiopia’s capital offers mobile users with faster data speeds, high-quality video conferencing and faster response times when using mobile applications or accessing the internet. It also helped service providers meet demand for mobile data, which is rising every year as customers move to adopt data-hungry smartphones, mobile modems and tablets. Hence, there are plans to expand LTE across the country.
A steady upsurge in numbers for smartphone subscriptions and mobile traffic is the norm in the mobile sector. LTE for mobile and fiber optics for fixed connections are becoming widespread and this has led to the introduction of innovative connectivity bundles for voice and data. Demand and usage of digital services like OTT video, smart home, financial services, e-health, e-education is also on the rise.
It has been stated that the mobile industry in Ethiopia is a key contributor to the country’s economy and enables new economic activity in other sectors. As wireless connectivity enables business to be done on the go, it allows information and services to be access anywhere, and will create new services and industries.
Abiye Yeshitila is Account Manager at Ericsson Ethiopia
Aptive Capital Dangles $10,000 Equity-Investment in Three African Startups
Aptive Capital, a US-based Venture Capital (VC), has announced its investment in three early-stage businesses in Africa; Nigeria, and Uganda.
Earlier in June 2020, the Africa-focused investment company opened up applications to invest $10,000 equity capital into eligible and high potential startups based in Africa, from its $1 million portfolio fund.
The application, which ran for a month, had over 500 entries from high growth companies with very impressive founders across Africa.
After thorough phases of scrutiny and submission reviews by investment professionals, three startups were selected for the early-stage funding.
Speaking on the investment, Dr Ben Peter, managing partner at Aptive Capital said, “We had lots of entries from impressive founders across Africa who showed so much enthusiasm and had amazing solutions.
“We’ve settled for these three, not because they are the best, but because we believe their visions as impact-led companies directly align with our goals to promote measurable and innovative social causes in Africa.
“Our team has kick started support for these energetic companies who believe the solutions they are proffering will solve the continent’s most daunting problems. This is what Aptive Capital is committed to doing.”
According to the organisation, the criteria which determine the selection include; early-stage business, evidence of impact, founding team, uniqueness of the solution, traction, leverage of technology, further projections and validity of the startup industry.
While applications rolled in from sectors such as Digital Storytelling, eLearning, Access to market, Digital payments, Supply Chain management, agriculture, Logistic, eCommerce, Gamification, Big data, Cybersecurity, Crowdsourcing, and eLiteracy, the selected companies include:
Skyfire Digital – Digital marketing agency supporting MSMEs in Africa and the US market to achieve their business ROI objectives as well as scale through various online channels.
Mimi Money – Bitcoin payment solution using crypto to transform payment in Uganda.
Emmnoch Farms – Fish farm solution providing end-to-end along the fishery value chain and connecting rural farmers and bridging the nutrition gap through fish farming.
From the pool, barely 100 startups made it to the second stage which involved due diligence and further documentation.
The next round was a one-on-one Zoom pitch, that saw 10 selected startups make it to the finals. At the final stage, only these three startups were able to successfully gain investment interest from Aptive Capital.
According to Peter, “Our selection process was quite intense and we’re glad that these ones not only saw it through but also emerged victorious in the end because of their belief in their solution as well as a very lucid business model.”
In the next couple of months, Aptive Capital will, in addition to the $10,000 funding, offer technical support, mentorship, coaching to intensify the social impact of its portfolio companies. Aptive says its next call for investment rounds will open before end of the year.
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