Introduction

Towards the end of March 2022, we learned that MTN GlobalConnect had acquired MTN Business Kenya. The move was to see MTN GlobalConnect transform MTN Business Kenya into a dedicated wholesale infrastructure hub in the country.

So far, the new MTN GlobalConnect team has already arrived in Kenya. It is led by Sylvia Anampiu, who serves as its new Managing Director.

We got a chance to talk with her as she explored her plans for the company in terms of strategy, and what the organization seeks to meet with existing and potential customers and partners.

Before we dive further into this conversation, here are a few things to note:

1. The MTN GlobalConnect Kenyan team will continue to look after its customers while reshaping the business to service wholesale and infrastructure.

2. Kenya was an obvious pick, or as MTN GlobalConnect calls it, a ‘natural’ selection for MTN GlobalConnect to kick-start its Pan-African fibre railroad journey.

3. MTN GlobalConnect is still injecting incremental foreign and direct investments across Africa to build a terrestrial backbone with an extensive fibre-optic network that will expand broadband connectivity.

4. The transaction aims to interconnect countries by building digital hubs and connecting landlocked countries to subsea cables. 

Sylvia Anampiu, MD – MTN GlobalConnect Kenya

Sylvia Anampiu has been MTN GlobalConnect Managing Director in Kenya for more than two months now. She is a telco industry veteran, having worked in telecoms for the last 12 years. She worked as a Financial Planning and Analysis Manager for Telkom Kenya for two years and then spent more than a decade at Airtel Africa in various roles. Sylvia’s last role at Kenya’s second-largest operator was as a General Manager for Enterprise Marketing and Sales Operations. She has since transitioned from that role to MD at MTN GlobalConnect Kenya, which as said, is now under the MTN GlobalConnect umbrella.

MTN GlobalConnect Kenya is a wholesale and digital infrastructure carrier

With the introduction out of the way, we wanted to know the difference between MTN GlobalConnect and MTN Kenya, and why the former acquired the Kenya arm.

MTN GlobalConnect is the digital wholesale and infrastructure company under MTN.

“MTN GlobalConnect is an operating company under the MTN Group. GlobalConnect works within the wholesale space, which includes fixed connectivity services, wholesale mobility services ranging from voice, interconnect, messaging, value-added services to roaming services,” clarifies MD Sylvia.  

On the fixed connectivity front, the company offerings range from subsea cables, cable landing stations, data centres to inter-country and cross-country fibre networks.

The MD further clarifies that MTN Kenya is still here but is now a subsidiary of MTN GlobalConnect.

“MTN GlobalConnect Kenya is not a mobile network operator(MNO) but a wholesale and digital service provider unlike the example you’ve given of MTN Uganda

Which is a fully fledged MNO” adds Sylvia.

Customer profile

MTN GlobalConnect Kenya works with many organizations. It offers its services to multinational companies, local and international telcos, hyperscalers such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and more. The company sees that these customers access services such as cross-border capacity, dark fibre, and last-mile solutions.

Now, MTN GlobalConnect will now help the Kenyan arm to form part of the said infrastructure business while offering customers end-to-end solutions.

Why Kenya?

Sylvia reiterates that Kenya is a leading digital hub in the region, and in Africa as a whole, alongside the likes of South Africa, Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria. The country has been seeing a lot of developments following the launch of digital hubs by multinational tech companies: Visa has since launched an innovation hub in Nairobi, and so has Microsoft with its ADC and the latest Google that has announced its plans for opening a product development center. All these illustrate that Kenya is an appealing tech hub for tech organizations.

“The Kenyan government has done a lot in building an efficient telecommunications policy and regulatory environment that has encouraged players in this space to set up shop here. This has ensured that we are working in Kenya while creating digital opportunities for our people,” says MD Sylvia.

“This is why we are committed to continue investing in this market, by building the much-needed terrestrial backbone with an extensive fibre-optic network that will expand broadband connectivity.

Kenya is a strategic location in closing the link between the East and West of Africa, extending connectivity to landlocked countries,” says the MD.

With MTN GlobalConnect Kenya, the company can seamlessly connect throughout the continent, as well as connect customers and partners wherever they are in the world. This is where the Global part of GlobalConnect comes in.

MTN GlobalConnect Kenya pumped USD 9 million into the Kenyan market in 2021 and is committed to more investments in the coming years. Additional investments will see the firm provide higher capacity connectivity in Kenya while creating the infrastructure to handle more traffic alongside the growth MTN GlobalConnect Kenya has witnessed.

Connectivity outside Nairobi

Sylvia says that tech companies should not necessarily be concentrated in Nairobi.

This can be backed by what the Kenya government has done alongside the ICT Authority in linking up all of the country to fibre.

For instance, the last decade has seen the government build more than 9,000 kilometres of terrestrial fibre that has reached all Kenya counties via the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure Project (NOFBI) (Phase 1 was implemented in 2008, Phase 2 in 2014, and 2E in 2017).

The last mile connectivity of the government has also developed 534km of the infrastructure that has linked 1650 public institutions and offices in offering services such as the Government Common Core Network (GCCN).

READ MORE: Inside Kenya Government’s Plan For Digital Infrastructure Growth In The Next Decade

“A lot of businesses are going online thanks to work done by telco operators as well as the Kenyan government through NOFBI. We will continue working together as operators, and collaborate rather than compete,” says Sylvia.

End users and more

End users are set to have faster and more affordable broadband following the robust infrastructure that MTN GlobalConnect Kenya has invested in enabling faster data exchange.

“We are also looking into upscaling our data centers bringing services closer to our customers for better connectivity,” says Sylvia Anampiu.

Conclusion

Overall, and according to MTN GlobalConnect Chief Executive Officer Frédéric Schepens, the company has many plans for Kenya and the extended Eastern Africa Community.

“We have prioritised the Republic of Kenya to form part of our fibre rollout owing to its strategic location in the East African Community bordering five countries, its access to the 2Africa subsea cable at Port Mombasa, and that doing business in Kenya furthers our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of modern connected life,” he shares