Guest blog post written by Sanjeev Duggal, CEO & Executive Director, Centum Learning Ltd

Improved economic conditions have fueled unprecedented telecom growth in Africa. It is estimated that by 2016 the continent will have a billion mobile phones. According to a World Bank report, nearly 16% of adults and 31% of those with a formal bank account in Sub-Saharan Africa have reported using a mobile phone to pay bills or send / receive money in the last 12 months.

Africa’s status as being the second most mobile connected continent where about 15% of its billion inhabitants own a cell phone has ushered many African nations into a digital economy and changed lives of people for the better. The telecom revolution has touched people through better access to education and entertainment, helped in disaster management and better agricultural yields and brought people together through social media.

 Indeed it is Ne Kako in Tswana, which means ‘It’s Time,’ and Africa’s time has come. It is now considered the world’s fastest growing continent with an emerging middle class that has a relatively higher consumption power compared with previous generations. About 350 M Africans now earn between $2-$20/day. A recent study from McKinsey says Africa’s collective GDP, at $1.6 trillion in 2008, is now roughly equal to Brazil’s or Russia’s and the rate of return on foreign investment is higher in Africa than other developing nations.

GDP Africa

Yet, there are still hundreds of million in Africa who remain trapped in poverty and unemployment. With almost 200 M people aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world and worrisome unemployment rates. If South Africa has 50% unemployed people between 15-24 years the rest of Africa has over 11% resulting in instability, criminal activities and conflicts as these young people have nothing to occupy themselves with. Only 51% of 15-24 year olds participate in wage-earning jobs making underemployment, vulnerable employment and working poverty widespread in African countries.


Orchestrating Inclusive Growth Through Telecommunications

In a unique PPP initiative, Centum Learning, India’s leading skills training and vocational development MNC has shown how mobile technology can engage youth to tackle unemployment and bridge the skills gap.

Centum Learning joined hands with the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to launch this massive outreach program through mobiles. Initially, the scope of the pilot project will be limited to the State of Bihar but it will eventually be rolled out nationwide by COAI member telcos to cover nearly 400 M subscribers. Under the initiative, telecom providers would send text and voice-based messages to the target audience who will be required to give a missed call to a toll free number. Interested candidates would then be profiled on the basis of their age and location and finally mapped to their nearest enrolment centres.

Centum Learning aggressively took up the cause of mobilizing under-privileged youth in skills training though its unique mobile mass-outreach program. The successful pilot program in Bihar has reached a subscriber base of 1.5 crore youth with text and voice based awareness messages sent to the target audience.

Africa can replicate this model to reach out more aggressively to its youth living in rural and remote areas. Latin America and Africa are expected to add nearly 595M new connections representing 20% of the overall global additions that will take place by 2017. ICT penetration is projected to explosively increase giving rise to e-commerce while the formal retail industry is just taking off. And what this means is a huge demand for customer service and customer centricity.


Building the Skilling Bridge to Foster Customers

African telcos can tap into a huge youth base to bridge the skills gap but more importantly help it build a bigger customer base. Remember, that the emergent middle class is spurring telecom companies to offer better services, which in turn is leading to turf wars. New and existing operators are battling it out for the profitable market and slugging it out against banks as well that are trying to protect their traditional mainstay – banking services – against mobile payments.

The only way for telcos to retain and expand their market share is to ensure operational efficiency, provide better customer service and last mile connectivity. While telcos are building their business by diversifying their service offerings through broad-based mobile apps, seamless hardware and software to give better customer experience they can win customer trust by providing superior customer service.

Customer satisfaction and customer-centricity are key to building a loyal subscriber base. Further telcos will have to provide better showroom experience, manage their channel partners and increase VAS in order to make this happen. Timely training interventions can address these critical elements.


Centum Learning has proven expertise in providing customized training interventions. Its training solutions for the telecom sector can help enhance agents’ capabilities, increase ARPU, channel sales and VAS penetration. The company’s unique 4-step approach to improve business metrics through Customer Experience, Enterprise Solutions, Passive Infrastructure and Direct-to-Home has made it the partner of choice.

  • One of world’s largest Telecom providers has engaged Centum Learning to drive solutions in areas of Customer Service, Sales & Distribution, Retail, DTH & more. This included support in Market expansion in new geographies, Impacting key role-holders through Sales & Service University models, Driving new products & lines of business &   Devising Tools such as ‘Role Capability Index’ to assess the existing functional capability of teams etc..
  • One of world’s largest E-commerce enterprises is rapidly expanding its presence across geographies and has engaged Centum Learning to catalyze its growth in India. Sellers’ capability is a ‘key lever’ that impacts performance in E-commerce ecosystem. We shall be skilling & on-boarding their sellers on the E-commerce platform. The sellers most of whom are SMEs or entrepreneurs will be trained on selling skills, IT skills and overall Sales process management, thereby impacting their performance.


Some of the world’s leading telcos including MobiTel Sri Lanka, Jordan Telecom, Airtel and Matrix Cellular rely on Centum Learning to provide better customer engagement and optimize sales.

As the markets open up and new entrants come in only those telcos with skilled manpower that enhance the customer experience will survive.

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