25 September 2022

Interview with Vodafone Zambia CEO, Lars Stork

Lars Stock
Lars Stock

If you ever wondered who Vodafone Zambia really care about, spoiler alert: it’s youth!

I spoke to Vodafone Zambia CEO, Lars Stork, and asked him some questions on how they are doing in terms of subscriber growth, service delivery expansion in Zambia and corporate social responsibility.

Here is our conversation:

Why was Zambia the next best country to begin operations in?

There was great opportunity to transform the way people communicate in Zambia. Setting up was about bridging the digital divide in young people and enabling them connect to the internet. We haven’t been disappointed in Zambia, there’s a great need for improved communication here, and only because the service from ISPs and mobile operators have pretty bad quality of service (QoS). We need the public to be confident in the speeds and have focused on customer service to provide consistent services to them.

How many subscribers are on the network? 

Ranging from both individuals and business users, there are over 70000 subscribers, which is world class for what purely 4G operators are able to do in the mobile space in such a short space of time.

Are there plans for expansion to other towns in Zambia? 

Major consumption of airtime in Zambia right now is in Lusaka and the Copperbelt so we want to penetrate that first because expansion requires major investment, then we can consider moving south to Livingstone as well, or even Solwezi. Those will be the next 2 places we want to go to after fully covering Lusaka and Copperbelt.

Will Vodafone Zambia venture into the enterprise market? 

It depends on how you define enterprise, we have been largely invested in the youth especially in higher learning instituions across the country to provide educational and free learning opportunities, entrepreneurial skills. We wil continue to focus on youth and SMEs. We are going to drive (and I won’t tell you what it is incase I give too much away) an SME progam next year that should be exciting.

Who do you think is your biggest competitor right now, and why?

Competition is healthy right? The only competitor in the country that has 4G is MTN but I’m not concerned about them or anybody else for that matter. You have to do what’s right for your business and our mission to be the next generation operator is all about data, all about digital, and none of the competitors are really operating in that space. As long as we continue to innovate and take new and innovative services to market we’ll be fine. In any business you need to maintain a lead in innovation to stay ahead if you want to stay in the game.

How big is your employee base? 

120 at HQ in Lusaka and 50% are graduates from CBU, UNZA, ZCAS and NIPA who are impressive in their capabilities coming straight out of school. We also help them improve their careers as they work in an international organisation.

Is there a specific CSR mandate, and how are you promoting local SMEs? 

Vodafone’s CSR is the JUMP youth programme and part of the strategy is to provide education to help youth better themselves and improve their success rate of getting a job when they enter the job market. As you know many walk into unemployment right after school. The whole education sector of JUMP is what will drive development. Next year we will start more e-Learning and mentorship opportunities as well. It’s a source of inspiration for youths to see other youths succeeding in various fields, as well as for other corporates to see how they can run their businesses better.

Youth are the biggest asset or risk Sub-Saharan Africa has, with over 250 million people between 15 -25yrs old. If youth are not being looked after it could explode. The more other corporates can stimulate programmes like we have we could lead to benefit added to global economy for generations to come. In entrepreneurship, many youth want to start their own business but don’t know practical skills on how to run them.

Zambia could be a hub in this part of Africa if the government pitches in. The private sector will probably drive the most youth-innovative projects but the government will have to buy in.

What’s next for Vodafone in 2017?

Our youth agenda on JUMP will continue, we will focus on pushing SME sector as well, in terms of content, service delivery and our self-care app to provide more services to our consumers.

Conclusion

The youth focus of the business was a clever target market tactic as in Zambia those are the heaviest data users.

I also like the initiative to create an e-Learning platform with JUMP that shows what other young Zambians are doing and succeeding at. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s next for Vodafone.

Maybe voice services?

Read all previous articles on Vodafone Zambia here

Sandi

Tech blogger. Gadget junkie. Life lover. I love eyeliner. Miller runs through my veins.

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5 thoughts on “Interview with Vodafone Zambia CEO, Lars Stork

  1. I wish the article had covered Vodafone’s poor coverage in Lusaka. Many areas don’t have service. I can name Chilanga, Avondale and Meanwood Ibex Hill among places with very poor 1 or 2 bars of signal, or nothing at all. You were very soft on the Vodafone boss.

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