World Mobile Team Series Interview CCO Andrew Soper


Jessica : Welcome to the World Mobile special program, and learn more about World Mobile with me. I’m Jessica Walker. With us today is Andrew Soper, Chief Commercial Officer from World Mobile. Thank you so much for coming!

Andrew : Thank you for inviting me.

Jessica : I am very happy to invite you. I hope we can start from reporting on the World Mobile community. I want to talk about your daily work and the responsibilities of your position.

Andrew : I have been involved in World Mobile from the very beginning, so my role is actually to provide any support to the senior team and the board of directors. My main experience is running enterprises and developing business, assisting Micky, Allen, Charlie, Antonio’s work, and any other work that needs my support, and brings me more than 10 years of experience in Tanzania. I grew up in Kenya, South Africa, and I brought all this experience to the team to help guide their ideas and establish processes to implement the vision created by the senior staff and the rest of us for the company.

Jessica : So maybe you can share your background before joining World Mobile and what really brought you to where you are today?

Andrew : When I was studying for a master’s degree in Plymouth, I actually lived with Micky at the university and we were very entrepreneurial. We love business. We love business, creativity, and creation. We have established a telecommunications company called Terminating Minutes. After everything went well, I went to Tanzania to inherit the family business, namely voltage protection and solar energy. In those days, you would have these power outages every few years, and they would last all day. Therefore, by adding solar panels to the battery system, it can basically be fully charged in a day, which means that your battery can now work at night, and you can continue to work the next day. You won’t spend a penny on diesel. To me, this is like a real winner-you get a satisfied customer, you reduce the expenditure and use of diesel in the world, and you provide customers with a truly reliable product.

We basically completed a large number of projects based on this. I have done a lot of work in telecommunication batteries. I am the representative of NorthStar Battery in Tanzania, but mainly in Tanzania, I know almost everything about batteries.

Jessica : This allows you to see the gap in the market. So when did you meet Micky again?

Andrew : So in my travels, I have been looking for many opportunities. I have a different business partner in Tanzania-he is very experienced in grid utility power. We have analyzed the entire market of small grids, micro grids, home solar systems, backup batteries, and solar farms, and we have seen everything you can think of. We finally penetrated into the home system market and we distribute all the products. We found this market really attractive. We worked with more than 3,000 cocoa farmers who lived on average three and a half kilometers away from the store, and they had no electricity. They use candles and kerosene. They live on average 3.5 kilometers away from the store. They have no electricity and can only use candles and kerosene. The brightness of the light is terrible. Therefore, by providing these farmers with clean, safe, renewable energy and the latest technology. We use lithium-ion batteries, and these systems are still working 6 to 8 years later. We really solved a lot of problems. One problem that we did not solve or did not anticipate is that even though they no longer need to walk to charge their phones, they still need to walk to offline stores to do business. Now I am a full-time employee of World Mobile, and that business is still going on today, and they are still working with those cocoa farms today.

Jessica : We discussed renewable energy solar and green energy. How important is this in World Mobile?

Andrew : As a company of World Mobile, we will deploy as much green energy as possible through the network, and we will also implement the concept of recycling. So we have seen secondary batteries. These batteries have been used in electric cars and electric buses in China and then recycled and reused, hence the name secondary batteries. So they are the perfect choice for network nodes. There is also the potential for third life (battery) use cases, so they can actually become independent household systems in farmers’ homes in ten years. So we want to further explore these concepts.

“Africa’s power grids will never be built to cover the last kilometer with a kilometer of wires.”

To build a kilometer of wire, imagine that you would spend thousands of dollars per 100 meters, and the customer would spend 10 to 20 dollars a year. So the power company will never contact these customers. Even if there is political pressure, because they will never be able to recover the cost.

Therefore, these distributed energy generation and storage solutions are very important to open this market to a new world. It is so transformative because there can be no connection without power. Without connection, you cannot bring goods and services to these farmers. I mean, for example, we are working with a group of over 100,000 farmers. We have seen many people hitchhiking more than 100 kilometers to buy agricultural inputs. As a result, they can take the car to buy fertilizer in January, but they only need it in June. Their fertilizer is useless for six months. The role of the money was not fully utilized to bring in more interest or investment income, and then they also locked up their money for six months.

This is purely because they cannot communicate with the supplier that they need fertilizer in June, or they have cash in January because they just harvested, this is the only time they can pay because they don’t have a bank, otherwise they cannot get a loan.

“Therefore, our core driving force as World Mobile is to open up this new world by connecting these large numbers of users to the Internet. This is definitely a transformative thing that changes lives.”

They don’t have to hitchhike, but deliver this fertilizer to them. This will be half the price, and we will be able to promote financial inclusion through loans, crop insurance, and various goods and services available in the world. This is the problem we are trying to solve.

Jessica : This is so exciting! I think that in 2021, even before the partnership, some key milestones have been achieved. When it comes to the next step of the launch, what are you particularly excited about? Will the things you look forward to really help elevate World Mobile to a new level?

“We have divided our strategy into three levels, and we will not disclose the third level because it is still only discussed internally, which will have a great impact on the entire telecom business model.”

Andrew : So our current business model is to launch WiFi and switch air nodes. This is how users connect to the Internet. In order to connect to these WiFi hotspots, we use different types of backups, so we do not simply use a set of technical solutions. We will not provide a network like traditional signal towers. There can be good 3G or 4G coverage. This is not a business model.

“We are using all types of solutions to connect the villages to the network at the lowest possible cost and provide them with the Internet they need.”

If a village is just starting out, they don’t need a 200mbps internet speed, and a normal internet speed can meet the demand. We give them what they need. Even if the Internet is sufficient to access the portal so that they can order fertilizer and deliver it, this is a life change.

“We realize that we are not going to launch 5G in Africa. This is not the solution that Africa needs. As a starting point, they just need to be able to access the network. We will build this hybrid network and provide the best solution according to local conditions.”

Jessica : Great! So in the next few years, you will pay more attention to the short-term, you say that the third layer is still only for internal communication. But in the next few years, when it comes to World Mobile’s goals or goals, can you be sure of something you can share with us?

Andrew : We will announce our mission, vision and values ​​soon. We will definitely take user acquisition as a task, so in a period of time, no matter how many users there are, we will also achieve our revenue goal. But I think in the short term, this has nothing to do with the network.

“Instead, we need to build an ecosystem, which is the basis for our expansion. At present, installing one air node is as difficult as installing a thousand.”

We are in the process of forming, we are forming a team, signing contracts with suppliers, and conducting all these market access assessments.

“In order to build the physical infrastructure, it takes time to start, but once it starts, momentum will take you through and you can expand exponentially.”

Yes, as far as our goal is concerned, it is more to build a team. Establish a process so that we are ready to expand in a truly organized way without us having to go back in six months and start solving problems or changing our minds.

“We have to do it right from the beginning and gradually expand our business, and then we can move forward at full speed.”

Jessica : Thank you very much Andrew, you have actually provided a lot of clear information about what happened on the ground in World Mobile. I really look forward to seeing the progress in the next few months! It sounds like you are really busy. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with me and others in the community.

Andrew : You ‘re welcome Jess, thank you for inviting me.

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