Time for fresh ideas, says new Airtel MD


Anwar Soussa [L] and Tom Gutjahr.

Last week, Airtel appointment of Anwar Soussa, as the Managing Director of Airtel Uganda, with effect from 1st June 2016.

He replaces Tom Gutjahr who will be leaving the company to head Djezzy (OTA), the largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers in Algeria, North Africa owned by Egyptian-group Orascom Telecom Holdings.

Mr. Soussa was the Managing Director for Airtel Chad since 1st May 2015.

Gutjahr said Anwar’s leadership, Uganda will continue to consolidate its position while providing the best in class services to Airtel customers in Uganda.

“Anwar will focus on strengthening our external stakeholder relations, consolidating commercial capabilities and help build a superior network.”

As the new Managing Director in Uganda, Anwar Soussa is expected to provide further impetus to Airtel’s mobile commerce services while ensuring availability of the fast growing data network and providing winning customer service support.

Anwar has had a long stint in the telecommunication industry in Africa.

He joined Airtel from MTN Cyprus where he served as the Chief Operating Officer.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the American College of Greece and a Master of Science degree in Marketing from Concordia University, Canada.

New face, new ideas

At the close of the week, Airtel unveiled Anwar to the media at the telecom’s headquarters in Kampala.

Anwar, better described as focused and friendly, said he is in Uganda to serve.

He described Airtel as a humble company, pledging to engage with people in the country for better services.

Anwar who has been in North Africa, Europe and South Africa says his role as an executive at Airtel is “to serve consumers and take Airtel to greater heights”.

“I will ensure that our customers are happy and satisfied,” he said when asked about his mission.

As for his strategy, Anwar says he will not follow any hierarchy, will not tolerate dictatorships but instead, will make a team where everyone is important.

Asked about his experience with Chad, Anwar said the central African nation has limited infrastructure, limited population and harsh desert conditions which make it hard to make distribution work.

Asked about his expectations in Uganda, Anwar said he wishes to deepen trust with customers and let them know they are charged fairly.

“I will start by establishing trust with my own team and ensure effective team work.”

He also said the company aims to invest massively and optimise in the next quarter.

Speaking about his predecessor, Anwar said Gutjahr would have achieved a lot but didn’t have enough time.

“I will start from there [where Gutjahr stopped] to move the company forward.”

He said it was a time to imagine new things and bring in new ideas.

Gutjahr who was present at the event, said he will spend the whole of May orienting and introducing Anwar to various stakeholders.

Gutjahr has served Airtel as chief executive officer (CEO) for two years now.

He says Airtel invested about 40m dollars last year which saw the increase in internet speeds, Airtel money distribution across the country and the building of 1,000km of optic fibre cabre in Uganda.

It was during his tenure that Airtel acquired Warid telecom at  Shs1.8 trillion in 2013, one of the most successfully merges.

He grew Airtel mobile money users from 1 million to about 4 million users.

Gutjahr replaced Arindam Chakrabarty who had been the firm’s acting managing director, following the promotion of VG Somasekhar, the previous MD in Uganda within Airtel business in Africa to look after a portfolio of eight countries.

Gutjahr was a CEO in Tigo Paraguay (Millicom International Cellular), the biggest operation in the Millicom Group.

Prior to that, he had a stint as CEO for the Tigo operation in Rwanda in 2011; and CEO for Tigo in Chad between 2008 and 2010.

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