Zain scales back operations to survive South Sudan crisis
Zain South Sudan, the local mobile unit of Kuwaiti telecoms firm Zain Group, has scaled back its operations and cut the number of its expatriate staff, in a bid to survive the country’s ongoing political and economic turmoil. Bloomberg quotes Daniel Deng Lual, Zain South Sudan’s senior director for administration and corporate relations, as saying that the cellco is focusing operations on major towns – including Juba, Yei, Bor and northern Upper Nile, where South Sudan’s largest oilfields are located – and limiting some of its coverage elsewhere. He added that the firm, which had 711,000 mobile subscribers at the end June 2016, has reorganised its 88-strong workforce by cutting the number of foreign staff and hiring more locals. ‘Now we are only at a level of survival … There’s no investor who is ready to put [in] more money, but we have to be self-dependent – we have to do everything possible to make us survive,’ Lual said, adding that ‘profit has been minimal in the business.’
In June this year one of Zain South Sudan’s main competitors, South Africa-based MTN, reduced its workforce and limited the distribution of scratchcards in favour of electronic airtime top-ups, in a bid to help mitigate operational difficulties caused by surging inflation and the collapse of the local currency.