Todd Ashton – Managing Director Ericsson Kenya and Vice President and Head of South and East Africa.

1: Could you tell us a bit about Ericsson’s history in Kenya, and how Ericsson has contributed to the country's digital economy and connectivity goals?

Ericsson's history in Kenya dates to 1898 when we embarked on a project to add communications for the Nairobi - Kampala train line. Since then, we have built strong partnerships with both the public and private sectors in Kenya. Our focus has been on modernizing mobile networks and preparing them for the anticipated rapid expansion of mobile connectivity in the country, as well as laying the groundwork for Kenya's future adoption of 5G technology.

To achieve this, we have been committed to deploying our state-of-the-art solutions, such as Ericsson's Radio System portfolio and Packet Core solutions, to enhance user experiences and network performance for residents across the nation. By doing so, we aim to drive improved use cases for consumers and enterprises alike throughout Kenya.

On top of this, we are working with Ericsson R&D and our partners to develop unique solutions to help ensure all Kenyans get access to broadband. Examples are using mobile to deliver a fiber-like experience in deep rural areas as well as developing very low-cost and low-power sites where the business case for our customers can otherwise be very difficult.  Our activities in Kenya align with the 'Digital Economy Blueprint’ of Kenya Vision 2030, which focuses on providing robust connectivity in rural areas and facilitating the growth of e-commerce platforms in the country. Through our dedication to innovation and collaboration with regional partners, we strive to contribute significantly to Kenya's digital economy and connectivity goals.

  1. Ericsson's Graduate Program in Kenya aims to nurture local talent and support nation-building activities. How has this program contributed to the development of technical skills and innovation among the graduates?

Ericsson's Graduate Program in Kenya has been designed to maximize the potential of young talents by providing them with hands-on training in Ericsson's technology, solutions, and delivery processes. One of the primary ways in which this program has contributed to the development of technical skills among graduates is through its carefully curated and robust training modules.

Being a global leader in telecommunications, we leverage our expertise and resources to impart cutting-edge technical knowledge to these young talents. Through a combination of classroom sessions, hands-on workshops, and real-world project assignments, the graduates are exposed to a diverse range of technical disciplines, including telecommunications networks, cloud technologies, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, artificial intelligence, and much more. This comprehensive exposure equips them with a solid foundation in modern technologies and prepares them for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The program also offers fresh graduates the opportunity to work in a large global organization and engage in multi-country projects, supporting our commitment to investing in the future of Kenya's workforce. By fostering talented, innovative, and creative technology minds, we aim to create a positive ripple effect on the country's digital transformation journey and economic growth as well as on the broader African continent.

We have just taken in our third cohort, and we remain very excited about our contribution to capacity building in Kenya.

3. Ericsson's #AfricaInMotion campaign focuses on advancing digitalization in Africa. Could you highlight some of the innovative radio technologies and solutions Ericsson has developed to address the unique challenges faced in the African market, particularly in rural areas?

As part of our #AfricaInMotion campaign, we have been actively working to accelerate 4G adoption and bridge the digital divide in Africa. One significant milestone in this effort is the launch of our three-sector dual-band Radio 6626, a technologically advanced radio technology that brings tangible benefits, such as minimizing power consumption by up to 50% and reducing the weight on the  tower. This radio has been successfully deployed in over 20 countries in Africa, contributing to the growth of 4G availability and laying the foundation for 5G introduction.

We recognize the importance of rural connectivity and have also been developing solar-powered rural site solutions. These solutions require minimum civil works, extending network coverage and enhancing connectivity in remote areas. The advanced radio technologies incorporated in these solutions offer numerous benefits, including reduced energy consumption, lighter weight, faster installation times, and fewer cabling requirements. By tailoring our innovation to Africa's reality, we are helping African nations overcome barriers to adoption and promote sustainable digital transformation across the continent.

  1. Todd, as the Vice President and Head of Customer Unit South and East Africa, you have decided to move to Kenya. Could you share some insights into your motivation behind this move and how it aligns with Ericsson's ambition and focus on Africa?

My decision to move to Kenya is driven by the country's immense potential and Ericsson's ambition to support Africa's digital future. In my capacity as the Head of Ericsson in South and East Africa, my primary focus is on driving Ericsson's commitment to the success of our customers throughout the continent, fostering strategic partnerships and ensuring optimal performance.

Kenya's dynamic market, abundant resources, young population, and strategic location make it a key player in the ongoing digital transformation in Africa. As someone who has previously led innovation efforts and forged strong partnerships with customers and industry stakeholders in Asia, I believe I am well-equipped to leverage my expertise in building enduring collaborations with key players in Kenya and its neighboring regions. I hold a solid background in financial consulting and telecommunications, coupled with over 20 years of invaluable experience at Ericsson.

I watched the 4G revolution meant for South East Asia in terms of innovation, economic growth, and addressing the digital divide. When the opportunity came to be part of doing something similar in Africa, it was too exciting to say no to!

  1. Looking ahead, what are Ericsson's ambitions for Africa, and how does the company envision supporting the continent's digitalization and economic development in the coming years?

Ericsson's ambitions for Africa are deeply rooted in our commitment to set 'Africa in motion.' We aim to continue empowering African Communication Service Providers (CSPs) by providing innovative and advanced technologies tailored to the African landscape. Expanding network coverage, especially in rural areas, and accelerating 4G adoption remain key priorities to advance digitalization in the region.

Ericsson will continue to invest in nurturing local talent through initiatives like the Graduate Program, enabling young graduates to engage with cutting-edge technologies and become future leaders and innovators in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) field. Additionally, we will also focus on bridging the digital divide and promoting financial inclusion through initiatives like 'Connect To Learn' and Mobile Money solutions such as the Ericsson Wallet Platform.

 

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