Manage services has been growing rapidly globally, especially in the developing world. In this interview, Rein Zwolsman, CEO Helios Towers Ghana, e-rays their activities in Ghana, its challenges and prospects and what the future hold for HTG.
Question: can you give us an overview of HTG’s operations in Ghana?
HTG is the first and leading tower company in Ghana with acquisition of Tigo’s tower portfolio. This was accomplished without any impact on the Tigo network / interruption to service delivery by Tigo. HTG was able to provide Tigo with immediate improvement in service level quality and availability on their network.
Presently HTG owns and manages more than 800 towers and controls major parts of the passive infrastructure market in Ghana. We have a significant market share with over 15 clients comprised of Operators, ISPs’ Broadcasters and government institutes. Growth in our clientele base has been impressive. HTG has been very successful in our first year, providing high levels of service, with uptimes higher than 99.9%. We are providing significant value to clients since entering the market. Higher uptimes result into more calls and more revenue. HTG has provided direct and indirect employment opportunities to thousands of Ghanaians.
In addition to all the major accomplishments highlighted above, HTG has also relieved her anchor tenant, Tigo, of the pressures associated with operating passive infrastructure, allowing Tigo to focus on providing excellent, innovative services to their customers thereby remaining very competitive
HTG is establishing strategic relationships with key partners such as the AMA, NCA,& other regulatory bodies to assist them in their efforts to streamline the tower industry.
Question: What differentiates your service from your competitors?
Our service offering is distinct from that of competitors in several key areas; we employ highly skilled & experienced personnel as part of our team. We use innovative technology, sophisticated tools and equipment and are continuously introducing technologically advanced, generator sets which reduce noise levels that produce significantly less pollution thereby ensuring a clean environment and efficient operation.
We also engage the services of third-party experts to ensure professional output in terms of site builds delivery and after sales service / maintenance.
Finally we work closely with regulatory bodies to ensure adherence to high environmental standards and aesthetics and infrastructure consolidation
Your deal with Tigo was the first major sales-leaseback agreement in Ghana; do you plan further / similar agreements with any other operator?
Trends in the industry indicate, clearly, that passive infrastructure outsourcing is the way to gain efficiencies and achieve customer-related objectives. We will partner with all operators to help them offer value to their subscribers and also achieve their corporate objectives.
Question: What is your market share in the industry?
As the leading Tower operator company in Ghana, we have majority of the market share. HTG is working hard to ensure that our share of the market continuously improves with quality and efficient service
What have your challenges been so far in this market and how have you dealt with them?
A typical challenge has been the pace of building new towers for our clients. However, HTG fully appreciates the new tower guidelines and understands the reasons for them. HTG will co-operate with regulatory bodies to ensure adherence to rules and regulations.
Has power provision been an issue in your Ghanaian operation compared to Nigeria where Tower companies have complained about power costs?
Power provision in Ghana is probably the best in West Africa in terms of stability and availability. Having said that HTG has implemented measures to ensure our sites are not without power for longer than necessary. HTG has back-up power at every site to ensure that power provision remains uninterrupted.
With the expected rollout of 3G networks from Operators, should subscribers be expecting better services from Telcos and what is HTG’s expected role?
Our role will be the same as outlined earlier; using our considerable expertise in operating managed sites to ensure more than 99.9% uptime, resulting in fewer dropped calls. To achieve such high standards, HTG will provide consistent availability of power and critical resources required to operate cell sites. We will also provide stability to the passive infrastructure market enabling operators to focus on their core competencies and provide world-class service to customers
What is your view on Number portability and SIM registration in Ghana?
We are not involved in this process; however, we appreciate the big step taken to provide freedom of choice to customers, which will also increase competition. All of these processes benefit the end-user.
Any plans to move into other African markets?
It is interesting that you ask that question; we are already established in other countries. Our first operation in Africa was in Nigeria where we are the leading tower operator. The Ghana operation was our second one. We recently established operations in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Our objective is to grow our business portfolio significantly across Africa, leveraging our strengths/expertise to add value to wireless operators.
Is HTG socially responsible?
The answer is a BIG yes; we prioritize the extra-professional needs of our staff;
We introduced and have implemented high standards of compensation, comparable to and better than most companies in Ghana. We provide security for staff in terms of retirement options. We have also recently tasked our marketing department to produce a strategic CSR plan to enable us to contribute in the fast development of Ghana.
Finally we sponsor events such as the upcoming Ghana Telecom Summit to help develop business and employment opportunities
Where do you see HTG in five years?
Our objective is to grow our business and be one of two leading tower companies in Africa. We also expect to attain/achieve significant market share in all countries of operations. We will continue to focus on providing innovative services to ensure that our clients and end users enjoy world class services. We also will be at the forefront in the efforts to arrive at a clean, green, aesthetically sound society.