Elected Miss Togo on 31 August 2013, 19-year-old Edwige Segbe has been assigned with an almost ‘impossible mission’ to disseminate ICTs in the country’s rural areas. The mission costs 125 million CFA (about US$250 000), courtesy of Moov Togo, the Etisalat-owned cellphone service provider.
Some industry watchers, however, believe that there is something ‘more strategic’ behind this beauty-brains/technology partnership than meet the eye.
Tech analyst Alfred Kwassi Amegatse told Moon of the South that Moov’s daring adventure to send Segbe on this assignment could just be a company’s strategy to reach new frontiers and perhaps win new hearts and fans in a highly competitive cellphone market largely dominated by Togo Cellulaire (Togocel).
“Competition is getting fierce between these two, and in this war you need strategies – the good ones. Moov knows that TogoCel owns the big chunk (almost two-thirds) of the market, so it’s not going to fold its arms and watch Togocel keep forging ahead.
‘That’s why it it’s fighting all the way, use whatever means it takes as long as they are legal and nation-building,” Amegatse added.
Though Moov’s partnership with Miss Togo did not kick off this year, Amegatse said targeting the rural areas was a well-calculated move.
Moov intends to connect 80 new locations in the country by the end of this year, he said, adding that there seems to be a connection between Miss Togo’s rural areas mission and Move’s proposed connection of new locations, which could mainly be in the rural areas.
“It’s some kind of a marketing ploy and a huge publicity parade as it seeks to counter Togocel’s growing influence, which might just work well in the rural areas, where the company intends to boost its insignificant presence,” another analyst, Koffi Paul Kouadio said.
Togo’s marginal revenue per subscriber has been considerably declining, reaching something between five and six US dollars, Kouadio said, adding that this forces companies to start looking for new sources of revenues.
Moov Togo, whose revenues on data doubled in the first half of this year, launched SOS Credit (credit loan) and mobile money Flooz in 2013, and is planning to launch mobile banking and Vobolo, a product specially designed for young people to interact with their favourite stars.
But in a country where ICT equipment is a luxury which only the political and business elite can afford, it is Miss Togo 2013’s Moov involvement that is getting analysts talking.
Kouadio said: “Other than a marketing ploy, I really don’t see how this Miss Togo could disseminate new technologies in the rural areas with such a modest budget. “
I’m afraid we might end up seeing only a few areas and a few people benefitting from this project,” Kouadio added.
“This seems like an impossible mission because Togo’s rural areas are facing huge ICTs challenges because very little investment is being made to boost not only the telecom sector, but the infrastructure in general.”
Photo: Miss Togo 2013 Edwige Segbe. Credit: Lomé.com