SPECIAL PROJECTS
 
21st October 2004.
Distribution is MTN strength

By Elizabeth Kameo
WEEKLY OBSERVER

An efficient distribution network ensures that customers get MTN products and services any time wherever they are. At least that is one of the guiding principles for MTN, according to the company’s General Manager Channels and Distribution, Mr. Simon Kisuuki.

Simon Kisuuki

He said in an interview that his department has grown stronger over the past year. As the company celebrates its 6th anniversary in Uganda, Kisuuki proudly says MTN’s unique distribution network, which takes into account the customers’ needs, has been key to their success as a company.

While one of the challenges for MTN was establishing countrywide distribution channels, the company has come up with innovative ways to recruit rural entrepreneurs, including women, as retailers and MTN franchisees.

Over the past year, Kisuuki says, MTN extended distribution channels through three other petrol stations and it has been a great success.

“We have opened up new distribution channels; the most popular being the three other petrol stations, Kobil, Caltex and Total. The majority are doing fairly well and they have enthusiastically taken on distributing MTN products,” Kisuuki said.

While Shell Uganda enjoyed a monopoly for more than five years as the only petrol station distributing MTN services and products, in the past year the mobile phone company has built capacity to distribute through other petrol stations.

“At that point in time [formative years] it was prudent that we went in with someone who was well established… We wanted a system where we could easily market our products, being new players in the market. Shell approached us and gave us a business offer which we could not decline.

“Later on, we realised that we had the capacity to establish a system which we could easily control. So we could easily expand to distribute through other filling stations,” Kisuuki explained.

Kisuuki says distribution through other petrol stations has helped MTN to achieve its goal of having a “Y’ello store next door”.

In addition to the petrol stations, MTN products and services are also accessible at Game Store and UCHUMI supermarkets in Kampala. These new distributions channels are in addition to the growing number of sub dealers in the country.

MTN has more than 3,000 sub dealers countrywide to support the dealers. They are mainly shopkeepers and kiosk owners. According to Kisuuki, the MTN approach ensures their distribution and channels network is unique and efficient.

“We ensure that the people of Uganda own the company and feel part and parcel of it. This you can only do if you have a distribution network that represents these people and is within them. They own and feel the contribution and they become proud of the company.

“Secondly, we have a philosophy that we should have a Y’ello store next door where people can get products at anytime of the day. That is the convenience that has created affinity. To do that, you need a very efficient, well-managed distribution network system that will satisfy everyone. This is what MTN has done over the past years,” says Kisuuki.

This unique approach is based on the company’s policy, which takes into consideration the importance of investment and training of the dealers.

For the past year, the distribution and channels department has worked to ensure that services are within easy reach for all customers. This, Kisuuki says, has been achieved and is still an ongoing goal.

“We want customers to know that MTN has minismised their costs of travelling distances to access products and services.”
For the coming year, Kisuuki says MTN is set on further improving the distribution network. That means MTN services shall literally be everywhere.

“We want to complete that which we have rolled out, and also focus on tailor-made services that the consumer wants. Does the customer want us to move on a bicycle nearer his home? We are now in the process of engaging all our dealers and sub dealers to find out exactly what the customer expects of us.

So we will now concentrate on customer satisfaction through the distribution network,” Kisuuki said.

ekameo@ugandaobserver.com