By Isaac Tugume Nyabingi
Seasoned accountant Andrew Bugembe is flying high after he was appointed the new MTN Uganda Chief Financial Officer, replacing Mike Blackburn, who retired early this year after serving as the Telecom’s CFO since 2011.
Bugembe’s appointment became effective on April 01st, 2020, the day he officially started his duties. However, the biggest challenge he faces is that his new appointment comes at a time when all companies, including telecoms, are grappling with the negative impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Uganda’s economy, meaning that he has to do whatever is possible to keep the MTN boat afloat.
In his position, Bugembe is part of the dynamic leadership team of MTN Uganda that boasts of 16 members, four of them distinguished ladies.
He is a dedicated telecom executive with experience at MTN in five countries holding various Executive/senior management roles some of which are Chief Financial Officer, General Manager Financial Planning and Analysis and General Manager Financial Operations. He’s an ambitiously firm driven leader with extensive senior management experience, stakeholder and risk management skills.
After being away from Uganda for almost 10 years, Bugembe is happy to join a great, experienced and strong management team back home at MTN Uganda.
He said he looks forward to leading the Finance division and contributing to MTN Uganda’s future success as the country embarks on this thrilling digital journey that the telecom is committed to deliver.
A chartered accountant, Bugembe’s robust career at MTN has seen him serve in five different countries. Some of the key highlights of his career at MTN include concluding a $300m syndicated medium-term facility, in a Project Finance deal that won an award for the best telecoms deal in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) in 2012.
He spent a lot of time resizing the cost structures for a couple of MTN OPCOs to align with changing macro-economic trends especially during the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the drop in oil prices while in Central Africa.
As CFO of the country’s highest taxpayer, Bugembe’s key roles will be to drive the company profitability mandate, to ensure effective and efficient capital allocation, and to support service revenue growth through data analytics with focus on non-voice revenues.
He will also support key transformation initiatives, build internal capacity, support digitization with focus on FinTech in addition to continuous cost optimization, and improving working capital management, among others.
According to Bugembe, there’s still an opportunity for telecoms in Uganda, given that mobile penetration is barely over 51%.
The data penetration is still low driven mainly by lower smartphone penetration, customer education, and relevant digital content. This will be key for the future growth of telecom in Uganda.
He also notes that “Uganda’s youthful market coupled with the many SMEs, steady GDP growth, and low inflation is a great opportunity for any business.”
With the telecom trends indicating the customers’ needs are changing towards data, Fintech (Mobile Money) and digital, Bugembe believes these will drive the future of telecoms, especially in Uganda with emphasis on financial inclusion as the country moves towards a cashless economy.
In addition to the 21 years of telecom experience, Bugembe is a chartered accountant (FCCA-UK) with a Master’s degree from the University of Wollongong in Australia and holds a Bachelors of Commerce Degree from India.
He has in the past served at MTN Congo Brazaville as CFO, CFO Lonestar Cell/MTN Liberia, General Manager Financial Planning & Analysis at MTN Ghana among others, while at MTN Uganda he served as Senior Manager Financial Operations between 2009 – Apr 2010.