Hot Seat: Airtel Uganda Managing Director V.G Somasekhar Quits

All is not certain at Airtel Uganda,  the second-biggest telecom in the country.

This website has learnt that V.G Somasekhar, who has been the Managing Director of the company, has since thrown in the towel and quit his job.

Raghunath Venkateswarlu Mandava the Airtel Africa CEO, broke the news to all group staff in an email on Tuesday afternoon.

In the email titled: “Resignation Of V.G Somasekhar: Managing Director – Uganda”, Mr. Raghu wrote: “VG Somasekhar (Soma), Managing Director of Airtel Uganda Limited has expressed his desire to move to India and as such resigned from his current job, but will be associated with the Bharti, Airtel Group on his return to India.”

Although it is not yet clear why Mr Somasekhar quit the MD position, business analysts in Kampala contend that it was under his reign that Airtel made significant market progress.

However, because of reasons best known to him and the Board of Directors, Somasekhar resigned on Tuesday and is set to return to India.

It should be noted that Somasekhar rejoined Airtel Africa in August 2017, after an earlier stint in Uganda between 2010 and 2014.

Soma, as he is known among his peers, helped to build Airtel Uganda Limited into a strong brand and into the company that it is today, after  Bharti, Airtel Group bought off Warid Telecom, which had earlier on bought off Celtel.

It was during his tenure that Airtel Uganda managed to roll out 4G internet access across the country, plus a commendable increase in the market share for the telecom.

He was also hailed for demonstrating great maturity in dealing with all stakeholders and providing robust leadership to the team in Uganda.

However, we have since learnt that Soma shall remain in office until  March 31st, 2020 when his successor will be named.

Somasekhar was in December 2010 appointed by Bharti Airtel to lead the Airtel Uganda operation, then the second biggest telecom company, although it was posting losses.

Due to his shrewd business acumen, in April 2013, Somasekhar led the acquisition of equally loss-making Warid Telecom for a reported $120 million and the subsequent merger into a stronger Airtel Uganda telecom with a turnover of Shs505Bn as at end of 2013 versus MTN’s Shs1 trillion.

Later in February 2014 he left to attend some assignments within the Bharti Airtel Group, but returned in September 2017 to lead a much bigger Airtel then, with nearly Shs1.16 trillion in turnover and Shs245 billion in net profit as at end of 2017.

By end of 2018 Airtel’s turnover had grown by 5% from Shs1.16 trillion in 2017 to Shs1.21 trillion and net profit has risen to an impressive 38% from Shs245Bn to Shs338.1Bn ahead of MTN’s Shs220Bn, on a gross Shs1.6 trillion in revenue, making Airtel, Uganda’s most profitable telecom company.

But his abrupt resignation has left many clients and staff at Airtel Uganda wondering why he decided to throw in the towel.

Joseph Kanyamunyu

Joseph Kanyamunyu is the Founding Editor of the Publicist East Africa. He is a highly skilled and talented expert at PR & Brand reputation with more than fifteen years’ of demonstrated experience in brand architect & advocacy, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, supporting multiple brands, directing communications schemes relating to various audiences, providing creative solutions that address clients’ needs in both agency and in-house settings. Proven success developing, managing and implementing media strategies and measuring results across both Digital media and traditional channels

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