By Richard Agnew
Dr. Walid Moneimne, the former regional head of Dell and Compaq’s enterprise divisions, takes the helm as Nokia Networks’ senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa this month. CommsMEA asks him how he plans to develop the Finnish vendor’s presence in his home region’s infrastructure market, and where he can see an industry recovery coming from.
|~|nokia2.gif|~|Dr. Walid Moneimne, Nokia Networks’ senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa|~|CommsMEA: What will be your new role, and how will the Middle East fit into it?Dr. Walid Moneimne: My new role will be to manage all of EMEA for Nokia Networks. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, which for Nokia covers Morocco to Pakistan, is a very important region for us and we are working to significantly enhance our organisation, specifically here in Dubai.
CMEA: What do you intend to do to help strengthen Nokia Networks in MENA?Dr. W.M: We already have a team based in Dubai and a large team in Saudi Arabia. We are also active in Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait and Iran and we work with MTC in Bahrain and Iraq. We will focus on business development activity, but also on technical and sales expertise within the solutions that we propose to customers. It’s important, if you’re dealing with mission-critical applications for the operator, to have all your resources available immediately for the customer, in order to ensure that the network runs to an optimum level. In the end, our customers are buying services and solutions, not products, and that is why we are putting a lot of high-level expertise into our centre in Dubai. We have been expanding the team in Jebel Ali significantly and will continue to do that.
CMEA: In which areas are you investing and where can you increase market share?Dr. W.M: We are setting ourselves up to run outsourcing activities. We can help our customers if they want to control opex through outsourcing, and we are looking at introducing that in the Middle East. Managed services allow operators to see where the cost of the infrastructure really is and to separate the different cost items. We are pushing managed services to run the network, not services and applications. This will allow operators to guarantee quality of service, focus on new services and cut opex. We have some outsourcing contracts to manage networks, although not yet in the Middle East.
CMEA: Hasn’t the move towards outsourcing in Europe essentially been a reaction to the industry downturn and expensive 3G licenses? What makes you think there is a market for outsourcing in the Middle East, where in many cases these problems don’t necessarily apply?Dr. W.M: Demand in the Middle East would be the same as it is on a worldwide level. When you have a network it takes a lot of resources to operate. I would also explain outsourcing differently. There are two angles. The financial aspects of outsourcing are very important, for sure. But the other important part is the need to implement the right processes and best practices to run a network. This is where a company like Nokia’s network division can help, as we work with a lot of other operators.
CMEA: In the Middle East, a lot of your infrastructure deals seem to come through partners such as FCC in Kuwait. Are you planning to target operators more directly and aggressively?Dr. W.M: Our go-to-market strategy has always been to work closely with the customer, because we offer mission critical applications for their business. We need to ensure that the solution is functioning completely to their requirements and is scalable. We have a very large number of roll-out partners that we work with to ensure that we have a total solution. In the Middle East we continue to work with a lot of partners, such as FCC. They focus a little more on the customer interfacing or on putting the network together. Clearly, we have a place within our strategy to work with value added resellers, but at the same time our interaction with the customer will always be direct.
CMEA: How do you assess the chances for CDMA in MENA, considering the fact that groups have been trying to promote it for mobile networks in Iraq and Jordan?Dr. W.M: When you look on a worldwide level, it’s very clear that GSM has taken the lion’s share of the market. For countries that have been using CDMA before, there is some logic for them continuing to develop on their own. But at the same time it’s easy to see that WCDMA, coming from the GSM family, will be the ubiquitous option. In any market, leveraging existing competence, interoperability, and well-proven technology has always driven economic decisions. If you look at mobile as a simple application — voice — you could look at various technologies. But when you look at the business case for additional services, then proven technology is the one that makes the difference. All the analysis points to the fact that CDMA will continue to represent only around 20% of the market. The market has reached 1.2 billion mobile subscribers. It will reach 2 billion in 2008, and most of those will be on GSM or WCDMA.
CMEA: Wll 3G start to make an impact in MENA in the short to medium term?Dr. W.M: There are still two angles that apply, both worldwide and the Middle East. The largest investments today continue to be in 2G. 2G investment will continue to increase, for coverage, additional capacity, and additional infrastructure for new entrants, such as in countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There will also be investment in technology within the 2G family, such as EDGE and GPRS. 3G will come into play when operators start looking at enhancing and adding growth to the mobile services. But the two environments will continue to play in parallel for a long time.
CMEA: Has the industry turned the corner on a financial level?Dr. W.M: Clearly, the infrastructure industry has been suffering a bit, but now we are starting to see some real recovery. There is healthy growth in the mobile services market, both in data and voice. Technology transition is finally happening and 2004 will be the year that WCDMA will take-off. Mobile services will also drive the market in a big way. There will be a lot of development of data services, either person-to-person or content. A lot of the enhanced services will increase voice usage as well. Companies offering technology and terminals will add things like push-to-talk and presence-based services.||**||