While speaking to reporters at Kampala Serena at the launch of another mobile money related program, MTN’s Ernst Fonternel said that their successes this year were almost being overshadowed by major challenges of power shortage and fuel theft.
“It has been quite a remarkable 2013 for us, with our customers exceeding the 8 million mark, 5 million of who are registered on mobile money service and carrying out over 25 million transactions per month. We were also recognised with a Corporate Social Media award which we think is so rewarding and a sign that we are on the right track,” he said.
He then added: “But power shortage has remained one of the most impacting factors on the quality of our work this year. Because most of our sites are on the grid, we are largely dependent on hydro power, which means that when power goes off, most of our services in these areas are down.”
Umeme says it has of late been refurbishing its substations in different parts of the country thus leading to intermittent power outages.
Fonternel said that since their services are largely crucial and many people cannot go on for long without them, MTN has devised means of getting such instances covered with fuel.
“But then comes fuel theft; something we are still grappling to find ways of tracking. We have tried hard to avert this problem by working hand in hand with local police, and even though they have to some extent been of good help to us, fuel theft still poses a great challenge to us,” Fonternel went on.
He further observed that worse still, vandalism of the telecom’s property still prevails in various parts of the country, thereby hampering their connectivity in these areas.
“Most stolen items are our copper wires, and when they do this, it means that somewhere our services will be unavailable for some time.”
While they are impressed by the efforts being put in place by government to address the challenge of power shortages, Fonternel called upon security officials to put an addition endeavour to track down the wrong characters that steal their fuel and vandalise their property.