Friday, 8 February 2013

Glo Ghana finally acts on flat uptake

Glo has always been a bit reticent with its investor releases, and its recent attempts to import management talent to its Nigerian head quarters operation has seen disgruntled executives trudging back to their native turf muttering about tardy payments and contractual breeches.

Glo in Ghana should have a modern network with unique access to its own submarine cable, and should be - worst case scenario - providing a viable second SIM facility, so would be expected - having established its initial beachhead at the 1.5 million mobile subscriber mark in August - to have grown at a similar rate to the rest of the market. But instead it has plateaued for the last six months of 2012, whilst its major rivals - Vodafone, MTN and Airtel - have enjoyed monthly growth around the 2 percent mark over the same period.

Glo Ghana mobile subscriber uptake April 2012 - December 2012
Source: NCA
At the start of February Glo is addressing one problem, namely dealerships. Through to June, Glo is offering prizes 'running into millions of Ghana cedis' for its 'outstanding dealers'. Glo claimed the incentives were the 'best in the industry', but perhaps more tellingly in the same release Glo said it was in the process of upgrading the network by April 2013 to offer the most extensive 3G coverage in Ghana. 

So maybe this is the root of the problem: the product in its present form is simply not sufficiently compelling given the presence of some well-known and well-established majors, and the dealers have struggled to maintain the sales effort after the initial launch interest subsided. Indeed, blaming the messenger is a well-known management tactic (it must be the salesmen who can't sell, and not the sub-standard product).

It may seem surprising that Glo has launched with a sub-optimal 3G network, but then the launch itself was considerably delayed, leading to a fine by the Regulator. At one point Glo was struggling to obtain permission for the erection of the towers it needed, so maybe management in their heart-of-hearts went to market with a network they knew wasn't ideally optimised and needed more time to fine-tune.

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