If anyone knows the telecoms industry very well in Zambia, Keith Banda is that guy. Having started with Celtel (yes, that Celtel from way back!) where he was fondly referred to as “Keith Celtel” and now with Zamtel, let’s take a look at his journey in the telco space where his focus has been in sales and distribution, retail marketing, customer service and enterprise segments.
He began as a Customer Care Executive with Celtel Zambia Limited in 2006 (yes picking calls from 111), then rose through the ranks working in the shops at Manda Hill and Crossroads before managing several provinces like Copperbelt, Western and Central. Finally he became Head of Distribution. Below is his journey:
2006 Customer Care Executive – Celtel Zambia Limited
April 2006 to May 2008 Office Sales Executive – Celtel Zambia Limited
May 2008 to June 2009 Business Development Coordinator – Zain Zambia Limited
June 2009 to May 2010 Sales Consultant – First National Bank Limited
May 2010 to 0ctober 2010 Business Development Coordinator – Zain Zambia Limited
May 2011 to November 2011 Territory Manager Western – Airtel Zambia Limited
November 2011 to October 2012 Territory Manager Lusaka – Airtel Zambia Limited
November 2012 to May 2014 National Sales Analyst – Airtel Zambia PLC
May 2014 to June 2015 Area Sales Manager Lusaka – Airtel Zambia PLC
June 2015 to September 2015 Zonal Business Manager Central Province – Airtel Zambia PLC
September 2015 to February 2017 Zonal business Manager Copperbelt – Airtel Zambia PLC
March 2017 to December 2019 Head of Sales and Distribution – Airtel Zambia PLC
December 2019 to October 2020 Head of Retail Business – Liquid Telecom Zambia
November 2020 to August 2021 Head-Sales and Distribution Zamtel Zambia
August 2021 to date Acting Chief Commercial Officer Zamtel Zambia
What was the highlight of your Airtel Career?
“I did 13 years with hard labour, we worked hard and we were rewarded for it. I think the best part of it was the learning, I worked for the gurus of telcom; Ragu, Apporva, Peter, Dinesh, just to mention a few. Everyday you learnt something new. My team and Ibuilt Airtel money, I remember when we first began to roll out our plan of shops and booths, results came in very slow, at some point I was sure we were going to be fired. But it grew and became the best decision we made. I look at Airtel Money now with pride to have been part of the team that designed and implemented that strategy that many opcos came and learnt from us.”
Was leaving hard?
“Extremely, I wasn’t leaving my work place and work colleagues, I was leaving my home, my friends and family. But I had to spread my wings. It was time for a different challenge. I do remain forever grateful for the time I spent there.”
And Zamtel? Why?
“Why not? It’s a massive challenge and there is no better feeling than being able to use your skills to benefit your country. Zamtel has to be the biggest telco in Zambia, and we will be I have no doubt in that.”
Acting Chief Commercial Officer? Big role, yes?
“The secret to success in any role is simple, build a strong team and have the right people doing the right job. I work with an amazing team and we continue to add more and more skills and talent. We are building something special, something each and every Zambian will be proud to call their own. We have grown by almost 30% in terms of revenue, we have the best offers both voice and data, we are building a culture of growth where we are grooming and training the next top executives.”
Keith’s highest qualification is an MSc. in Marketing from the University of Salford, United Kingdom.
He is also currently studying Project Management with Prince2 as well as a postgraduate Diploma 7 Chartered Institute of Marketing (I wonder where he finds the time but ok).
“I’m the last of 5 children ( 2 boys, 3 girls) and was born and bred in Lusaka, Woodlands to be specific. Family is probably the biggest part of me, it’s everything to me and I come from a big family which includes both blood relations and friends who have become family. I am a workaholic but I have learnt over the years to always make time for family. I am blessed to still have my parents alive, I love them to bits. They have always been my biggest inspiration.
I’m a proud Ngoni warrior, as you know we are wise men from the east able to climb trees with our hands in our pockets!”
Apart from your parents, who inspires you?
“Wow there are a lot! Shaka, LOL. I mean he came from a very humble background and changed the way we lived, the way we fought wars, he was very intelligent. KK is amazing. I mean he shared the same message for 50+ years, to me that’s believing in something and living by it. He made his mistakes but you can’t speak of southern African freedom without mentioning ‘Super Ken’. Levy Mwanawasa, legend in my book, the impact he had must never be forgotten.
What is your biggest dream?
“My biggest dream is to have a positive impact on the people of Zambia specifically and Africa in general. We are so abundantly blessed, all we need is to embrace each other with Ubuntu. If we can get back to loving people and using things instead of using people and loving things we would be in such an amazing place.”
Work wise, who are some of the best people you have worked with?
“Ha, too numerous to mention and too risky as I would not want to leave out one accidently, but Kenneth Sinkamba (MHSRIP) is definitely at the top of that list.”
To see more of Keith and his work check him out on LinkedIn here.