Zain, Africa: Making operations better

Zain, Africa

Zain, formerly the Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), is set for growth in Africa with an Operational Excellence program.

As part of Zain, Celtel operates in 14 African countries, building reliable and competitive networks. Zain is the new brand identity of the MTC Group which pioneered mobile telecommunications in the Middle East and is now, with the acquisition of Celtel, a major player in Africa.

The operator's ambition is to continue investing in Africa and help communities and individuals to prosper. Ericsson has a proven track record of supporting Zain in Africa by being one of the key suppliers of end-to-end equipment and services. The latest joint project between Celtel and Ericsson is an Operational Excellence program, aimed at implementing uniform best practices across group operations and staff development.

Raul Pagel, Group Engineering and Planning Director, Zain, explains the benefits of the Operational Excellence program: "It would be almost criminal not to have a well-structured mechanism enabling us to continually learn from each other's mistakes and successes. It is fundamentally important that individual operating companies follow the same up-to-date, best operating procedures, organization and job structures, and possess the necessary competence levels."

Celtel elected to undertake this program with Ericsson following numerous consultations. Raul Pagel, who instigated the program, explains: "For us, it was important to ensure that we standardize the group's best practices, tailored to our operating environment and needs. This is not available off-the-shelf. We needed a partner to develop this framework with us, building on years of in-house expertise while incorporating industry best practices and operating models."

Celtel and Ericsson co-produced the vendor-independent framework Operating Guidelines by identifying best practice in the existing networks and combining it with the eTOM standards and Ericsson's own stringent Telecom Operations and Processes. The resulting guidelines provide a reference model for Celtel's operations in 15 countries.

Martin Svanström, Services Sales Director, Ericsson, elaborates: "Celtel has been very successful in the market. We wanted to collaborate and create something that would work for Celtel in the future by taking into consideration what they do well today."

A Process, Tools and Organization Analysis was undertaken by Ericsson Business and Network Consultants, followed by a Competence Gap Analysis. The goal was to consolidate and align operations through the Operating Guidelines framework, in order to improve operational efficiency and facilitate knowledge sharing. This is an ongoing project. After the initial Gap Analysis, the team determined an objective maturity rating, which will be used during the follow up visits to support Celtel in driving the changes. This process facilitates the formulation of personal competence development plans for employees, built on defined roles and responsibilities. Ericsson and Celtel have worked jointly to develop the program with a structured phased approach. Martin Svanström explains: "It was tempting to jump straight into the actions but we took a more structured approach to create a long-term sustainable Operational Excellence program, while addressing the quick wins as a priority." End-users will see improvements in services as operations become even more customer oriented. The Operational Excellence program supports the Celtel slogan 'Making Life Better'.


Customer: Zain, Africa

Customer Objective

  • Determine and implement best practice operating processes across group networks
  • Align supporting organization structures
  • Develop staff competenceImprove performance in all aspects of operations
  • Reduce OPEX
  • Increase sustainable investments in African Telecommunications though increased operational efficiency

Ericsson Solution

  • Support Operational Excellence program implementation
  • Network and Technology Consulting
  • Business Consulting
  • Learning Solutions

Customer Benefits

  • Operational excellence as a competitive advantage
  • Reduced OPEX
  • Best practice processes, competence and organization
  • Increased employee empowermentEnd-user orientation

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