Shanapinda takes his regulatory experience to Telecom Namibia
Making the switch from regulating telecommunication services to running the national telecommunications operator offers valuable regulation perspective, the new Chief Executive of Telecom Namibia, Stanley Shanapinda said.
The former Chief Executive of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), Shanapinda said that his job at the regulator gave him an opportunity of sitting on the other side thus giving him the chance to see the challenges service providers go through, including available opportunities.
“As the CEO of Telecom Namibia, I can pre-empt what is likely to come. I know how to think like a regulator and therefore I can incorporate that into our business strategies going forward. But also I feel empathy for the CEOs of the service providers because I am now walking in their shoes,” Shanapinda said in an interview with the Economist.
Shanapinda sees Telecom Namibia as the Fortune 500 of parastatals that is well managed according to best international practice as a service provider. As its CEO, he will work to speed up service delivery at the parastatal, especially in terms of faster installations, the time it takes to provide the service and speeds provided to its customers.
Over the next two to three years, Shanapinda is looking at getting the company 5G ready in order to switch on their five 5G installations, converting the company’s 2G and 3G sites to 4G capabilities and expanding their national footprint.
“These projects are awaiting approval from the Central Procurement Board of Namibia because we are a parastatal. The delay can be a little frustrating at times, but we are working with our colleagues at the Central Procurement Board to get these three projects started,” Shanapinda said.
Every year, Telecom Namibia’s services are being interrupted by frequent cable theft, leading to huge inconveniences in communities, including loss of internet connectivity. This is one of the issues Shanapinda will pay closer attention to by working to eliminate the black market.
The company is doing business with second-hand copper dealers in order to ensure that they are all approved and are operating within the law.
“I do feel for our customers and it must be very frustrating for them when our property gets stolen and the services that we provide to them that gets disrupted,” Shanapinda said.
Shanapinda has over 17 years of extensive experience in the information and communication technology field and previously headed legal services at Telecom Namibia and the Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings.
Prior to his appointment at Telecom, Shanapinda was a research fellow at the computer science and IT department at La Trobe University Melbourne, Australia.
During his time at the University, he did a study for the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology on Namibia’s roadmap for digital transformation, which he had to drop when the Telecom job came about.
While doing the research, Shanapinda found that there are challenges Namibia is facing for example in terms of public service delivery. He explained there is a huge market for young innovators in introducing a digital strategy in government services and they can work towards more than just making existing data digital by means of incorporating digitalization.
“People can now access services online. So if we increase the number of ICT students at University, they can become the entrepreneurs that will develop feasible digital applications because a lot of the services are still at digitization phase,” he added.
Telecom Namibia has got a 32% market share, including mobile and fix and IP. The company’s turnover is reduced in the past few years, with the 2020 estimate being N$1.4 billion, down from the N$1.5 billion seen in the 2017/18 financial year. The operator’s IP subscriptions are standing at an estimated 71 000, with prospects of growing it to 80 000.
“We are looking at improving on the performance agreement we have with our shareholder (Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings), and improving on our financial ratios in terms of cash flow and revenue,” Shanapinda said.