Telenor's startup 'IGNITE' wins as internal startup, although last quarter sales decline

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The final quarter of 2017 has not been the brightest for Telenor Pakistan, one of the leading GSM services in the country. The Fourth quarter in 2017 saw revenues of Rs. 25.58 billion which have plunged from Rs. 25.74 billion from the same quarter last year.

While revenue growth stagnated during the quarter, revenue growth continued from increased data revenues, higher handset sales and growth in subscriptions, a press release said. The number of subscriptions increased by 0.9 million during the quarter under scrutiny, taking the total base to 42 million, which is 6% more than fourth quarter last year.

For another feather in the cap, the AutoSahulat, a car-repair service spotting and comparing startup created by Telenor Pakistan as part of Telenor Group’s employee innovation program ‘Ignite’, has been selected as one of the winning internal startups. 

The press release further said that Telenor strengthened its position with increased focus towards both reducing capital expenditure and prioritizing it towards expanding the 4G and 3G network footprint, which has consumed all of the telecom industry in Pakistan.

The press release confirmed Telenor’s 4G population coverage at 38% by year end 2017. Telenor also decreased its operational expenditures notably through solid execution on the efficiency agenda, despite having increased cost from subscriber growth and network expansion.

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA), which measures the company’s operative cash flow, grew by 20% due to gross profit uplift and increased contribution from the cost efficiency programme, resulting in an improvement in EBITDA margin of 5 percentage points. The average revenue per user plunged to Rs. 200 per subscriber per month only, down from Rs. 205 in a year on year analysis with the corresponding period last year. 

‘In Pakistan, the process of birth registration has been marred by a host of socioeconomic and cultural hindrances including time, cost, travel, processing complexities, and a general lack of awareness among the masses limiting registrations to only one-third of all children in the country.

On the bright side, the Digital Birth Registration (DBR) project from Telenor Pakistan has been nominated for the prestigious GSMA Global Mobile Awards (GLOMO) 2018 in the ‘Outstanding Mobile Contribution to the UN SDGs’ category. According to the corporation, ‘DBR aspires to provide the fundamental right to identity and to millions of children across Pakistan, lack of which is a critical impediment in provision of basic services to citizens by the governments’. 

‘DBR was designed to create an enabling environment by making the process of birth registration user-friendly, efficient and transparent and providing facilitation to citizens and other stakeholders through not only infrastructure and capacity building but also through innovative use of digital technologies.

The availability of timely and accurate data will also enable better planning and decision making at policy level. Besides giving the Pakistani children the right to identity and thus access to basic amenities, the initiative also sensitized the masses about the efficacy of mobile technology as a means to access public services.  Since its inception, the service has registered impressive impacts in rural and urban areas of the country’.

More than often dubbed as the ‘Oscars’ of worldwide telecommunications industry, GSMA Global Mobile Awards recognize and celebrate the phenomenal successes and contributions registered by mobile operators across the world.

The press release confirmed Telenor’s 4G population coverage at 38% by year end 2017. Telenor also decreased its operational expenditures notably through solid execution on the efficiency agenda, despite having increased cost from subscriber growth and network expansion.

Telenor Pakistan’s Digital Birth Registration initiative, launched in partnership with provincial governments and UNICEF Pakistan, has proved itself to be a standing effort towards mediating child’s right to identity by augmenting birth registration process in Pakistan. With its ever-growing user base and GSM plus 3G and 4G footprint, the service can be utilized by citizens almost all across the country.

‘In Pakistan, the process of birth registration has been marred by a host of socioeconomic and cultural hindrances including time, cost, travel, processing complexities, and a general lack of awareness among the masses limiting registrations to only one-third of all children in the country.

For another feather in the cap, the AutoSahulat, a car-repair service spotting and comparing startup created by Telenor Pakistan as part of Telenor Group’s employee innovation program ‘Ignite’, has been selected as one of the winning internal startups.  AutoSahulat, along with six other winning product and service ideas from Telenor’s different global chapters, will now move on to a three-month incubator program to develop their ideas further. 

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Mediabites Editorial – Shoaib Naqvi

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