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MTN Uganda’s new CEO Sylvia Mulinge to focus on digital solutions

The New MTN Uganda CEO, Sylvia Mulinge (L) receives tools of office from the Board Chair, Charles Mbiire (L). (C) is the MTN Uganda CFO, Andrew Bugembe.

The cost of internet and infrastructure remains a big challenge to the telecom

| THE INDEPENDENT | On October 4, Sylvia Mulinge took over as Chief Executive Officer at MTN Uganda, succeeding Wim Vanhelleputte, who assumed a new role in the West African market, a move that makes her the first female to run the biggest telco.

Mulinge, an alumnus of the University of Nairobi, will focus on spearheading the delivery of the Ambition 2025 strategy whose intent is to play a leading role in providing digital solutions for Africa’s progress through driving industry-leading connectivity operations, creating shared value, and accelerating portfolio transformation.

She takes the rein at the time businesses including telecoms are grappling with high commodity prices, inflation, geopolitical conflicts, and low demand. This also coincides with the telecom’s dislike for taxes on data and handsets claiming that it has lowered the uptake of smartphones among the population and thus keeping internet costs high.  Currently, the government charges 18 percent VAT and 12 percent excise duty on mobile phones, in addition to a raft of other levies and taxes on data.

“I am ready to build on my predecessors’ achievements to steer the continued growth of MTN Uganda through strategic partnerships and leveraging MTN’s brand as the most trusted and valued by all consumers and stakeholders in Uganda,” Mulinge said.

She further added that she was looking forward to a good working relationship with various stakeholders including MTN staff, shareholders, regulators, business partners, and the government so that the company can operate in a conducive environment, close the digital divide, and ensure that everyone accrues the benefits of a modern connected life.

“When I looked at the statistics for Uganda, I saw that a lot of work has been done with support from the government and the regulator to enable us provide the coverage that is required,” Mulinge said.

“But when you look at that versus the usage that is being achieved, there is a big gap. And one of the challenges is not only about the capacity to consume because of price, but also the infrastructure.”

MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire said: “We are very confident that our CEO’s passion for transforming customers’ lives, leadership, and women empowerment using technology will help drive our accelerated growth, positioning MTN for greater relevance ahead.”

Mulinge who has been serving as the Chief Consumer Business Officer at Safaricom PLC since 2018, is credited for driving the company’s customer obsession strategy to deliver long-term shareholder growth as well as creating preference for the Safaricom brand.

Since joining Safaricom PLC in 2006, Mulinge served in various roles including Prepay Product Manager, Head of retail, Head of Safaricom Business – Sales, General Manager, Enterprise Business, and Director, Consumer Business.

Mulinge began her career in 2004 at Unilever Kenya, working as the Assistant Regional Brand Manager in the laundry division, based in South Africa.

She joins MTN Uganda nine months after listing on the Uganda Securities Exchange in December last year, enabling thousands of Uganda to own a share of the company.

MTN Uganda had 16.3 million subscribers, 9.8 million Mobile Money users, and 5.7 million active data users as of the end of the second quarter of 2022.

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