MTN's new boss has her work cut out  

Ms Sylvia Mulinge

What you need to know:

Ms Sylvia Mulinge says she is ready to build on her predecessors’ achievements through strategic partnerships and leveraging on MTN’s brand. 

MTN’s new chief executive officer Sylvia Mulinge has her work cut out as she takes over reigns at Uganda’s largest telecom . 

Ms Mulinge, who assumed office on October 1, takes over from Mr Wim Vanhelleputte, who has since been appointed as head of MTN Group West African markets, comes at a time when inflationary pressures are high, coupled with sluggish consumer spending and high cost of doing business. 

She becomes the first-ever female to lead MTN, bringing with her a track record of executive business experience spanning about 20 years, 15 years of which, were in the telecom industry. 

“I am ready to build on my predecessors’ achievements … through strategic partnerships and leveraging MTN’s brand,” Ms Mulinge said during her first media interface in Kampala yesterday.

Ms Mulinge was tapped from Safaricom in Kenya where she had been serving since 2006 in various roles including prepay product manager, head of retail, and head of Safaricom business sales, general manager, enterprise business and director consumer business. Her immediate role had been Safaricom’s chief consumer business officer. 

She began her career in 2004 at Unilever Kenya, working as the assistant regional brand manager in the laundry division, based in South Africa.

Mr Andrew Bugembe, the MTN chief financial officer, said MTN was cognizant of the tough business environment, noting that everyone was facing the same effects (of inflation), to which the telecom is not immune. 

“For telecoms, it’s not that easy that you will be able to just increase your prices. What we are doing is to offer customers what they can afford,” he said, noting that the telecom has been affected due to an increase in fuel prices, inflation and depreciation of the shilling against major currencies. 

Ms Mulinge joins MTN nine months after the telecom listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange in December last year.  

During the media interface, Mr Charles Mbire, the MTN chairman, said Ms Mulinge “will help to drive accelerated growth, positioning MTN for greater relevance ahead.” MTN boasts a record 16.3 million subscribers, of which 9.8 million are mobile money users, while 5.7 million are active data users as of the end of the second quarter of 2022.  

First dividend pay

In June, MTN paid out its first dividend since listing on the Uganda Securities Exchange. The telecom paid out a combined total of Shs105.4b to its 21,452 shareholders for the year ended December 31, 2021.