Calling the shots

Baitshepi Sekgweng

This week we call up Orange Botswana’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Néné Maïga for a chat.

Originally from Timbuktu, Mali, Maïga has come a long way with the mobile giant, her journey including stints in France, Cameroon, Senegal and Mali.

She has called Botswana home since assuming the CEO role in September 2021, leading Orange to even greater heights in that time.

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Her remarkable work has not gone unnoticed…

Congratulations on being named by the World Economic Forum as one of 2024’s most promising Young Global Leaders in business; you must feel on top of the world?

It is a great honour to be recognized as a promising leader in the 2024 YGL Class – amongst a group of 90 change makers who are shaping the future and accelerating positive change through their groundbreaking work.

As an African woman this recognition carries substantial significance for me.

Internationally, the technology and business landscapes are dominated by seasoned leaders and experts.

The involvement of voices such as mine, from developing economies, transcends mere symbolism as it establishes trust that African voices are being heard and valued on the global stage.

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I certainly share this recognition with my dedicated team at Orange Botswana who continue to drive innovation and excellence in our industry.

Your journey with Orange started way before Botswana, is that right?

Prior to my current role, I held the position of Chief of Staff to the CEO at Orange Middle East and Africa, both in France and Morocco, from June 2018 to August 2021.

Before this, I served as the CEO of Orange Finances Mobiles in Mali from February 2017 to June 2018.

During my tenure, I focused on compliance, customer base expansion, revenue growth, and customer acquisition through innovation.

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Now take us through an average day in the office?

My days are usually spent in strategic sessions with the people behind the success of Orange Botswana.

My position as chairperson of the Orange Money Board also takes up a great deal of my time which I enjoy quite a lot because this is where we define the visionary financial strategies within the organisation.

Define Orange Botswana’s position in the market?

We have taken market leadership!

We are leader in terms of Orange Money users, mobile subscriber base as well as home internet base.

We have been in the Botswana market for 26 years now, and during this time we have worked tirelessly to innovate and bring customers closer to technological solutions that guarantee their inclusion in the economy and in an ever-evolving digital era.

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At Orange Botswana we pride ourselves as the ‘first-to-market leader’ in our industry – we are the innovators of telecommunication and mobile money in the country.

In 2018, we introduced 4G technology, following a similar pattern with the introductions of 3G and 2G.

How has Orange Botswana changed the mobile telecommunications sector over the years?

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In 2022, we introduced 5G technology, positioning Botswana as a prominent player in the mobile communications sector.

This technology has empowered partners such as Gadget Gurus, Spectrum Analytics, Anton Tech and MRI to offer 5G-enabled solutions in e-health, connected vehicles and cities, real-time gaming, and smart homes.

Our partnership with the MRI, for example, resulted in the creation of a connected ambulance, enabling doctors to guide paramedics through life-saving procedures en-route to hospitals — a feat attributed to the capabilities of 5G technology.

We are also very passionate about championing technology and improving Botswana’s ICT infrastructure.

In 2024, we made a substantial investment exceeding P150 million when we launched a world class Tier III Certified Data Center at the Botswana Digital Innovation Hub and Technology Park.

This center is a step towards uninterrupted services and offers Batswana advanced services like cloud solutions and real-time communication as well as constant connectivity through 5G.

We are dedicated to fortifying the country’s infrastructure through investments such as this, and we have paramount confidence that this is a significant step in Botswana’s technological advancement.

Tell us a bit more about the Orange Digital Centre’s mandate?

In 2022, we launched the Orange Digital Center in Gaborone.

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The Digital Centre was the first of its kind in Botswana and brings several strategic technology programs into one place for young people to access for free.

It was an amazing moment in the first year of the center’s existence to witness 150 students graduate from the ODC equipped with world-class hands-on skills such as coding, digital embroidery, subtractive manufacturing, and 3D modelling and printing.

What challenges does the company face?

A growing challenge for us in the telecommunication industry is the rise in critical infrastructure vandalism and theft.

Copper cable infrastructure is the most vulnerable and targeted as it is widely spread countrywide, and this also affects damage to fibre cables as well.

Theft such as this has a great impact on the quality of our service delivery.

Our collaborative efforts with law enforcement stakeholders are ongoing and we encourage the public to report suspicions or incidents of theft.

Are there any exciting new products your customers should look out for?

There are so many products and services that keep me excited but if I were to choose I will definitely cite the Max it App, our data and/or connectivity offerings, and the Orange Money N’stakolle loan.

Last year we introduced our mobile super-app, Max it App, which brings together the worlds of telecommunications and financial services to meet all the daily needs of our valued customers.

The App is a portal for all the Orange and Orange Money services that would have traditionally been accessible through USSD code.

The App aims to simplify our customers’ experience and ease completion of daily activities for all users.

From Orange Money, I don’t believe there is a Motswana that doesn’t know about the N’stakolle micro-loans!

It is a product that I am very proud of, one that we have seen grow exponentially through our partnership with Access Bank.

It is a product designed with simplicity and transparency at its core and I personally love that it gives Batswana a chance to actively participate in the financial ecosystem with pride and dignity.

How impactful is Orange Botswana in the society it operates in?

Orange Botswana has been able to make a greater impact in our society through our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm, Orange Foundation.

Since its inception, the foundation has been at the forefront of helping the Government of Botswana advance its National strategies in a real and impactful way through technology.

This is why we decided to support Government to implement its agenda for Education, known as ETSSP ‘Education & Training Sector Strategic Plan’ by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in 2017.

Shed some light on the relationship between Orange Botswana and the country’s star athlete, Letsile Tebogo?

Letsile ‘School-boy’ Tebogo has been the Orange Botswana brand ambassador since 2022.

We believe in the power of sports, and we found it compelling to partner with him in order to create more sporting opportunities for Botswana.

We always strive to develop long-term relationships with inspirational young Batswana like Tebogo who are dedicated, hard-working and who show excellence in what they do.

His performance on the track has propelled him into a global sensation and a record-breaker, and we look forward to witnessing him make the history books for Botswana and Africa at large!

Away from your busy schedule, how do you relax?

I am all about prioritizing family so when I am not innovating at Orange Botswana, I am spending most of my free time with my family.

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