Africa’s Telecoms Titans: Etisalat

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Africa’s Telecoms Titans is a series by Techzim profiling the top 20 leading mobile operators on the continent. Each segment focuses on a specific mobile operator with insights into services provided including marketing and technical competencies.

Etisalat: Africa’s Arabian Operator

Total Subscribers (Global): 135 Million
Total Subscribers (Africa): 30.6 Million
Biggest market (Africa): 15million subscribers in Egypt
Ownership status: listed on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (United Arab Emirates)
Market Capitalisation (Through Abu Dhabi Parent): US$ 23 Billion
Annual Revenue: US$ 8.5 Billion
Net Earnings: + US$ 2 Billion
Employees: +53 000

Etisalat is a global telecommunications company that was founded in 1976 as  a parastatal owned by British investors and the federal government of the United Arab Emirates. The company has grown to become one of the biggest full service telecommunications operators in the world with a footprint across MENA (Middle East & North Africa, West Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and Asia. Its services span internet provision, mobile, content, fixed line and infrastructure solutions.

The company controls the Middle East’s main internet exchange and operates its own fibre and satellites. Its entrance into Africa was through the acquisition of the West African based Atlantique Telecoms, a mobile operator trading under the Moov brand. The company has both fixed line and mobile assets the continent. Egypt and Nigeria trade under the Etisalat brand while Tanzania operates as Zantel, Atlantique Telecom’s six west African assets operate under the Moov brand and its Sudanese fixed line business trades as Canar.

In 2009 Etisalat group received seventeen industry awards including three for innovation and three for customer service. It has been named ‘Best Overall Operator’ in the Middle East six times since 2006 and was named Best International Carrier at the World Communications Awards in 2008.

Technical Competencies:

Etisalat’s status as one of the world’s biggest telecoms operators gives its African subsidiaries benefits of scale. The company owns its own smart card manufacturing unit, support services company, fibre laying ships, Satellite earth stations and an engineer training academy. It also owns Prestige Telecoms, one of the biggest infrastructure companies in West Africa. The company’s satellite services provide coverage to two thirds of the planet’s surface.

Brand Competencies:

Etisalat’s marketing efforts in Africa are currently led by Moov telecom, which has a focus across Francophone West Africa while the company trades as Zantel in Tanzania and Canar in Sudan. Although it is only used in Egypt and Nigeria, the Etisalat brand will be rolled out across the company’s operating markets.

The company’s general marketing strategy involves offering competitive rates and services within a given market, it has been known to enter markets with free service promotions. In 2009 the company was also awarded for its superior quality of service by the Nigerian Communications Commission. The company’s challenger status in Africa is propelled by its focus on quality of its service and well financed parent.

Leadership Competencies

Mohammed Omran – Etisalat Group Chairman

Mohammed joined the company in 1977, one year after its formation, and since then held several management positions before being named the company’s Chief Executive Officer in 2004.

As CEO, Mohammad kicked-off Etisalat’s international expansion, acquiring the second mobile license in Saudi Arabia and forming a fixed-line operation in Sudan. Since then he has overseen a period of rapid expansion which has positioned Etisalat as one of the fastest growing operators in the world with its subscriber numbers growing 2,500% from 4 million in 2004 to 135 million customers in 2011. In 2005 He was appointed Chairman of Etisalat.

As well as delivering the vision for Etisalat’s commercial success, Mohammad Omran is also a well-respected industrial ambassador enjoying strong relations with local governments across the region.
Mohammed is also regarded as one of the world’s most influential figures in the telecoms sector, as well as one of the most notable business leaders in the Middle East. He is deeply passionate about the industry and the local economies in which his companies operate and this is why he has been awarded numerous times for his personal contribution to the sector.

He holds an Engineering Degree in Electronics and Communications from Cairo University, Egypt, which he received in June 1977.

Essa Al Haddad – Group Chief Marketing Officer at Etisalat

As Chief Marketing Officer, Essa Al Haddad is responsible for the group’s advertising, pricing and its value added services. Essa has been with the company for over 25 years, beginning his career in the Network Planning section of the engineering department. He moved through Project Implementation, Technology Strategy Development to Executive Vice President of Engineering. He was then appointed as Chief Marketing Officer in May 2006, to develop Etisalat’s marketing strategy with the goal to make Etisalat a customer-centric operation whilst ensuring Etisalat’s engineering excellence remains at the core of operations.

He also chairs several internal committees including the Numbering Plan Committee, Next Generation Network Steering Committee, and the Corporate Billing & Customer Care Steering Committee. He is also a member of the Etisalat Internal Investment Committee, Future Challenges Steering Committee and the Etisalat Branding Strategy Steering Committee.

The Zimbabwe Connection:

Norman Moyo – Acting Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Tanzania

Norman Moyo (image via

Moyo’s regular role at  Zantel (Etisalat Tanzania) Chief Commercial Officer. As COO, Moyo Norman masterminded the reinvention and strategic positioning of Zantel as the leading data service provider. Furthermore, through his leadership, he positioned Zantel as the most innovative and inspirational brand for the youth and high value customers.

Before joining Etisalat, Moyo was the Zain marketing director based in Bahrain and also worked as marketing director for Celtel Zambia and chief marketing officer for Celtel Nigeria. Moyo’s career dates back from his Zimbabwe days when he started his telecommunications career with Econet Zimbabwe in 1998. He later joined Celtel, Zambia, Celtel Nigeria then Zain Bahrain working in senior management roles.

Social Responsibility Competencies

Etisalat carries out CSR programmes across its operating markets. The company is part of the United Nations Global Compact and carries out charitable work in the areas of education, health, special needs and sports. In Nigeria, the company  recently won an award for its partnership with the Lagos state government’s Adopt-A-School initiative. It also invests heavily into causes centred around people with disabilities. 1% of the company’s revenues are invested into an innovation fund to support entrepreneurship and innovation.



  1. Taps

    In Saudi Arabia it was the second licensed operator after STC and operates as Mobily.

  2. KuraiMGT

    On a light note, Moyo should also try the Arabian outfits and a name modification to the like of Norman Bin Moyo, not bad both in sound and in business. kikikiki