Felleng Sekha’s Archetype Personality

In this world, there are people who watch while things are being done; and, there those who get things done. The archetypes as epitomes or the personification of those who get things done are always exemplary.

Those aspiring to be great may see those already there as lucky, but the earlier they realise that it takes hard work and diligence to get to that position, the better for them to move faster. This, obviously is one secret to success that many have failed to realise, but in some achievers, it is just written all over them that nobody needs to ask how they got there. Nothing but industriousness, focus and deep commitment to whatever they do got them there.

Such is the personality of Felleng Sekha, an archetype to the core, who had worked tirelessly to ensure that MTN as a group, became a strong and powerful telecommunications company in Nigeria starting from its exploratory years in 1999, and steadying the ship all through those early years of struggle for GSM operations in Nigeria, the period that only those who lived through the hardships can tell the story well; before she left in 2007, the company having firmed up its feet in the country.

But when the need arose again for MTN to have a capable hand that could help it out of its recent regulatory quagmire in Nigeria, no other person is as fit, qualified and competent to help the company out but Felleng. It was therefore no surprise that the company reached out to her; and today, she is back at the MTN Group as Executive, Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy.

Felleng was at the forefront of MTN’s expansion strategy throughout the early years of its formation, and led the acquisition of the GSM licence in Nigeria at the time when Africa’s most populous country was considered a difficult market where mobile services would not thrive. MTN Nigeria almost instantly became the Group’s largest and most profitable operation. She did not stop there; Felleng Sekha also drove acquisitions of GSM operations in Cameroon and Zambia. She spent five years in Nigeria as Executive Director, Corporate Services.

With a wealth of experience and a very approachable personality, Felleng is recognised for her enormous contributions to the ICT sector in Africa as a whole, and has received numerous industry accolades and has consistently been recognised among Africa’s top ICT leaders.

In the recent past, MTN ran into a number of regulatory challenges especially in its largest operations, Nigeria, with the regulator slamming the biggest fine in telecom annals of $5.2 billion on the operator. Although negotiations had led to this being drastically reduced to N330 billion (the equivalent of US$ 1.671 billion at the official exchange rate and US$902 million at the Lagos Parallel Market Rate at the time) to be paid over a period of three years, the fact that MTN Nigeria is having issues in the country again must have informed the management that the company does indeed, need extra help, hence Felleng Sekha’s appointment and the creation of the unique new unit. This move further underlines Felleng as the epitome of one who gets things done, especially where it looks almost impossible.

A renowned expert in ICT policy, law and regulation, Felleng presently consults on and has a proven track record of success with the management of public policy issues, strategic public affairs, political, regulatory, legal, operational and commercial risks.

Between 1999 and 2006, Felleng enjoyed a succession of executive roles within MTN Group, such as General Manager of International Business Development, and Executive Director Corporate Services.

Until recently, she was a director of Business Connexion (BCX), a South African IT systems integrator. In addition, she was the Chairperson of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the National Telecommunications Forum (NTF), and the Deputy Chairperson of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). She was also the first Vice President of RIARC (the Network of African ICT Regulators) and Chairperson of GSM Nigeria and GSM West Africa.

Ms. Sekha holds a BA in Law from the University of Lesotho (NUL), LLB from the University of Cape Town, and a post graduate diploma in Media Communications and Information Technology Law from the University of Melbourne.

Coming back at a time MTN Nigeria is enmeshed in operating issue with the recent accusation that the company had illegally moved over $13 billion out of Nigeria over a period of 10 years, Felleng must be having a foretaste of the challenges she would have to face across all MTN Group’s operations in Africa and the Middle East.

Although the company put up a spirited denial of any wrongdoing in the recent Nigerian accusations, the matter still lingers and is yet to be fully settled; this in part explains why the Group had to bring Felleng back, having successfully navigated the Nigerian terrain with MTN when the environment was much tougher.

Only recently, it was learnt Felleng was up in northern Uganda where she came face to face with the harrowing legacy of the rebel Joseph Kony’s deeds, as she partook in MTN Uganda’s opening of a women’s community centre for survivors of Kony’s rampage.

The MTN Group operates in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East with a total of 232.6 million subscribers as of June 30, 2016 across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.

That then is the field of activity in which Felleng has been called to duty.

On her second coming at MTN, the African telecom industry cannot but welcome Felleng, and wish her successes as she begins yet a challenging but rewarding job of mending the walls and sustaining MTN’s gains across its operating countries.

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