As the battle for relevance continues, it has come to our knowledge that Huawei South Africa recently raided Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe, taking on board over fifty of the telecom operator’s most experienced Network Engineers.
After a long discussion with one of the Engineers who left Liquid Telecom Zim for Huawei SA, it was clear that Huawei offered better packages and working conditions. This comes at the right time when the ICT hardware vendor has just received huge investments amounting to $6,4 billion dating back to 2014 and registering $5,5 billion in profits since then.
In previous years the Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications company has been investing heavily in core network systems where it is deploying fiber optic backbone support for its corporate clientele world over. Huawei is also becoming popular for its intelligent optical transport solutions designed to anchor backbone core, metro core, metro aggregation layer, and metro edge networks.
This vision saw Huawei raiding several IT Companies in South Africa of their experienced fiber optic engineers with Liquid Telecom Zim becoming the latest victim. Huge investments coupled by better digitization growth in South Africa has made it possible for Huawei to attract the most experienced workforce from around the globe.
What boggles the mind is that Huawei also have operations in Zimbabwe where it is providing most of the same services it offers in South Africa. To make matters worse, Huawei’s Zimbabwe Division is Liquid Telecom’s partner where it provides inter-networking equipment which is being deployed by the operator in most of its client sites and telecommunication pathways. It is quite a clever but shrewd move by Huawei to raid its partner, but the Liquid hierarchy have themselves to blame after failing to tie down their human capital.
Liquid Telecom registered its presence in Zimbabwe as the most feared force in fiber optic communications which saw the Internet Access Class A service provider overtaking the likes of Powertel, TelOne, Telco and Africom in subscriber rates. Taking nothing from Liquid’s superior products where it offers the best network speeds in the country through its agent ZOL, but they should know better that in these rapidly evolving digital times, a telecom operator’s strengths relies on keeping its skilled workforce. Also by losing personnel to other operators, they will be giving away the company’s future projects to their opponents.
However, as the bad economic prevalence rages on in Zimbabwe, it is not only Liquid Telecom who faces employee exodus but almost every ICT company due to the continuous declines in revenue. As a solution to secure the future of their technicians, Liquid could have simply tied down their technocrats through offering mortgages and other company loans.
The same trick has been proven effective by Vodacom South Africa where recent surveys suggest that it has the lowest staff turnover in the past decade. We last heard that the Liquid management tried frantically to retain their technicians but they had already signed contracts with Huawei South Africa. We had it on good authority that the upper hierarchy tried to offer housing loans but it was too late. We hope this is a lesson well learnt by most Zimbabwean companies that it is beneficiary to the economy as a whole for them to retain the local talent. We cannot keep on hiring expatriates when we cannot even afford to retain the locally groomed experts.
Despite the fears of a melting economy, it should be noted that Zimbabwe’s telecommunications industry is now embracing innovation drives where every operator is now trying its level best to keep up with user demands. Liquid notably came in at the much anticipated time offering data, VoIP and other IP services through its robust fiber optic ring and also supplying satellite and international carrier services to other telecommunications operators in developing countries. In the last quarter of 2015, the operator announced the launch of an ambitious project to connect Eastern Africa and the Middle East through a submarine optical cable system that will bring high-speed Internet to the African continent.
Liquid Telecom’s success story cannot be ignored after causing untold suffering to once formidable brands like Powertel who used to lead the pack in offering Internet services in Zimbabwe. It is also against the background of business divisions led by one of Zim’s visionaries, Strive Masiyiwa to find such a highly rated brand losing staff at this stage where it is signing ambitious deals with the likes of MTN South Africa, Netflix and also planning to launch KweseSports TV a multi-view IPTV entity.
Surely, with the amount of revenue the company raked in the previous years through its hot selling fiber internet, we do not expect the operator to lose staff through remuneration issues.
The battle for relevance continues….follow Shingie Levison Muringi on twitter @, Shingie Chelsea Muringi on Facebook and TechnoMag Blog. Shingie Levison Muringi is the Deputy Editor of TechnoMag and also the Chief Technology Research Specialist of the publication.