Interview

We are laying the foundation for a networked society in Ghana- Alan Triggs, Vice President and Head of Operations, Ericsson sub Saharan Africa

Alan Triggs, Vice President and Head of Operations, Ericsson sub Saharan Africa

Alan Triggs is the Vice President and Head of Operations for Ericsson in sub-Sahara Africa and the Country Manager for Ericsson Ghana. In this role, he is responsible for all operation services; supply, logistics, and support for Ericsson’s customers across sub-Saharan Africa.

Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa is, the regions leading provider of telecommunications technology and services. With over 100 customers in 43 countries across the region, Ericsson has been active for over 100 years and employs more than 3,000 people.

Alan, who joined Ericsson over 16 years ago, has extensive international experience, having held various managerial positions for Ericsson in Romania, Sweden and North America. He holds a BSc. Degree in Electronics from the University of North Texas (UNT), a MSc. Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), and an MBA from the Institute of Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Along with the rest of Ericsson’s leadership team, Alan is focused on advancing the company’s leadership through value innovation, technology, services and sustainable business solutions. In a short session with Mobile World Magazine at the recently organized Ghana ICT & Telecoms Summit at Accra, Triggs gives insight into the business, competition and community responsibilities among other things.

Ericsson in Ghana

Ericsson has been involved in Ghanaian telecommunications for over 15 years, it was formally registered as Ericsson AB Ghana at the beginning of 2009. We provide Ericsson’s complete global portfolio of communications equipment and services which is vast and includes Managed Services, Network design, roll-out & optimization, post sales support and multimedia to name a few. Our portfolio includes ICT solutions which address mobile operators, enterprises, governments and public utilities.

Beyond our operations, Ericsson is also involved in a number of social initiatives. To start with, we have the Millennium villages, where we partnered with United Nations and Columbia University’s Earth Institute to invest in a number of villages across Africa. We were responsible for providing efficient and effective communications solutions to bring voice and internet services to those villages.

There is one in Ghana, Bonsaaso in the Ashanti region where we partnered with Airtel to provide connectivity to a population that previously had no access. They had no power and no telephone services, and now they have some of the most advanced 2G and 3G services on the market. It is making a big difference. Look at the health services where they now have access to information and expertise as and when needed, that was previously unthinkable.

Illiteracy is often talked about as a major challenge in Africa, earlier this year we demonstrated the potential use of broadband in the fight against illiteracy. Three schools in Ghana were connected in a live session with their peers in the USA in which they discussed culture, read stories, talked about differences and similarities and sang songs. Imagine the possibilities if we can bring more of such class room experiences to the rural areas.

Business Growth

The market is growing fantastically and our business is thriving. This boom is largely on the back of the Mobile Broadband growth across the world – in Europe, America, Asia and Africa (and in Ghana). In recent times we’ve see roughly a doubling of mobile traffic every year and expect this to continue over the coming years, it is a phenomenal business opportunity.

Telecommunications in Ghana

The emergence of undersea cable is extremely exciting, and the growth has been phenomenal. In under a year, Ghana has seen a massive growth in this area, going from one undersea cable in 2010 to four in 2011. This has brought with it more bandwidth (capacity) and competition which is always beneficial.  The next step is to extend the bandwidth inland and we have a number of solutions for that.

The overall Ghana market is very competitive and very well developed. We have got six operators in the market, so there is a greater drive for innovation and differentiation, I think and we have seen a variety of interesting services born of that. It’s a very healthy market.

Data emergence

The trends are moving in that direction. People are using their phones less and less to actually make calls. Mobile broadband is exploding and we see data traffic overtaking voice.  We are well positioned to support our customers in meeting the challenges.

Call Quality

There are a number of factors that contribute to why you might have dropped calls and speech quality issues. Investment is one, the more we invest the more coverage and capacity we are going to have. This should translate as less drop calls, however this alone will not fix the problems in the long term.

There is a huge demand for mobile communications as mentioned earlier – more and more, people want to be to connect whenever, wherever and however they please, so there is a huge wave of traffic waiting to hit the networks. To prepare for this, we (the industry) must put network transformation and the development of new business models at the top of our agenda.

Capacity Building

We are committed to driving development in the Ghanaian telecommunications industry, fostering local competence is key to this. We recently held a career fair and are currently actively recruiting for various positions in Ghana. In particular, we are building a Regional Support Centre and need experienced engineers, solutions architects, project mangers, as well as college graduates – we are investing in our future.

The centre which will be staffed largely by Ghanaians will provide second line support and proactive preventative maintenance to all our Sub-Saharan customers. That is potentially over 200 million subscribers who will be supported from right here in Ghana.

Motivation

Ericsson is a good company to work for. We have a fairly flexible working environment and I sometimes work very long hours but frequently can go home early if I need to. We are a good company for families and for developing people. It comes from our Swedish heritage.

The Future

Continue as the market leader that we are. It is as simple as that.

Ericsson & 50 billion connections

‘50 billion connections’ represents our view in the world. When you get a phone or I get a phone we feel quite empowered, it makes the difference in our lives. When everything is connected it makes a difference in the world. That is what we see, that potential.

Everything that can be connected should be connected. There are so many things being done.  For example, there are life saving health applications with devices for remotely monitoring and managing patient’s health.  We can remotely monitor heart rate, pulse and blood pressure. Lifestyle applications can tell when your fridge is running low on certain items and send you a reminder or even send your order directly to the store. All these kind of things can be done when devices are connected.

This is life in the Networked Society, more than just giving consumers what they want, it’s about changing the way we live our lives and run our businesses.

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