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Vodacom restructures, SA operations to stand alone

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Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub.
Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub.

Vodacom Group has appointed Balesh Sharma as MD of its South African operations, in a new structure prompted by the telco’s accelerated growth ambitions on the continent.

It says the new structure necessitated the creation of a standalone South African operating company that will be led by Sharma, who joins the telco from Vodafone, where he is currently director of special projects.

He will assume his new position at the beginning of July and will report directly to Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub. Sharma’s new position also gives him a seat on the reconstituted Vodacom Group executive committee.

Vodacom, which has set its sights on the continent’s growing financial and digital services, says it is positioning as a leading Pan African technology company, with executives at group level playing a central role of overseeing all operations across Africa.

Vodacom Group assumed management responsibility for Vodafone Ghana from 1 April and subsequently concluded a joint venture with Safaricom to accelerate the expansion of M-Pesa, having acquired the M-Pesa brand, product development and support services from Vodafone.

Vodacom and Safaricom are also vying for the Ethiopian telecommunications licence as part of a consortium. Vodacom holds a strategic stake in Safaricom, one of Africa's largest telcos.

Joosub says: “The stellar financial performance of our international portfolio, combined with the added responsibility of managing Vodafone Ghana and accelerating the growth of financial and digital services, means we needed to put the right structure in place to deliver on our ambition of becoming a leading Pan African technology company.

“This includes the decoupling of Vodacom South Africa as a standalone business. Under Balesh’s leadership, I am confident the increased focus will leverage the numerous opportunities that exist in South Africa from both our traditional telco business and our technology-focused growth acceleration units.

“The new structure will also place heightened emphasis on our international portfolio and new growth areas to ensure we continue to diversify our revenue streams.”

Additionally, Vodacom announced Beverly Ngwenya and Sitho Mdlalose will join the new Vodacom South Africa executive committee as technology director and financial director respectively, reporting to Sharma.

Ngwenya joined Vodacom in 2010 and is currently network officer responsible for the mobile network engineering and operations functions of Vodacom SA, having held several network and IT positions in Vodacom and Vodafone.

She holds a BSc Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Cape Town and completed a senior executive programme at Harvard Business School.

Mdlalose is a qualified accountant and joined Vodafone UK in 2007, holding various senior roles in finance and internal audit.

In his current position, Mdlalose has had a strong role in the leadership of Vodacom South Africa through his input in areas wider than finance, including commercial and operational issues. Previously, he was CFO responsible for Vodacom’s International Business.

“What the new structure won’t do is shift our priority away from assisting governments to combat the spread of COVID-19 and with the economic recovery from the health crisis. The safety of our staff and customers remains paramount, as does ensuring we continue to deliver on high customer experience standards,” says Joosub.

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