Astute business leader Mr. VG Somasekhar is returning to Kampala as Airtel Uganda Managing Director, the country’s second biggest telecom service provider has announced.
Mr. Somasekhar is widely remembered for leading Airtel from December 2010 to February 2014, during which period he oversaw the Airtel-Warid merger – the first telecom merger in Uganda and the most successful one across Africa, VG Somasekhar makes his comeback to replace Mr. Anwar Soussa whose departure comes as a result of a personal decision.
VG Somasekhar has been serving in the role of Director – Special Projects, Airtel Africa looking after a portfolio of eight countries – a promotion he earned after making Airtel Money here one of the mobile money platforms accessible to many and expanded internet connectivity using the 3G network and also oversaw the roll out of the Kiosk project.
By early 2014, when Somasekhar was leaving Airtel Uganda, they had reached 7.4 million subscribers while their main rival MTN had about 8.5 t million subscribers. However, the KYC (Know Your Customer) numbers differed slightly. The 7.5m subscriber numbers for Airtel were more refined than the 8.5m for MTN. The penetration for MTN data was about 30 percent. On the other hand, 25 percent of Airtel’s customers were already using Airtel internet.
During his four-year tenure as Airtel Uganda MD, he managed to swing from rivals MTN the Uganda national football team sponsorship with 1.05 billion Uganda shillings per annum for four years. Airtel, then Celtel Uganda’s last involvement with Fufa had been way back in 1999 when they were the official sponsors of the Uganda U-23 team ‘The Kobs’. He negotiated and signed off an agreement with the Buganda Kingdom to sponsor the now popular annual Kabaka Birthday Run that rivals MTN’s Kampala marathon.
Somasekhar began his career in Modi Xerox and in his eleven-year tenure he held various responsibilities across many geographies in India. His career highlights include running telecoms as business with end to end P&L responsibility, rich experience of emerging markets across India, Africa and exposure to Middle East where he has managed business cycles of start-up, scale-up, transformation and mergers & acquisitions.
He holds a graduate degree in Commerce from the University of Madras, Executive Education Program from Harvard Business School and Thunderbird University – Arizona.