Vodafone Bemobile: the work begins


The transformation of the Bemobile mobile phone company following last week’s reported restructure has begun, with Bemobile’s Regional CEO for Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, Pradeep Lal, already in PNG to take the reins.

Signing the deal. Back row (from left): Acting MD Michael Ahkoy, Company Secretary Chris Allen, Aisake Taito (FNPF), Pradeep Lal (Vodafone), Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama, PNG PM Peter O'Neill, Wasantha Kumarasiri (IPBC), Public Enterprises Minister Ben Micah Front row:  Incoming Chairman Andrew Johnson, FNPF Chair Ajith Kodagoda, outgoing Chairman Syd Yates, IPBC Chairman Thomas Webster

Success has many fathers. Back row (from left): Acting MD Michael Ah Koy, Company Secretary Chris Allen, Aisake Taito (FNPF CEO), Pradeep Lal (Vodafone), Fiji PM Voreqe Bainimarama, PNG PM Peter O’Neill, Wasantha Kumarasiri (IPBC), Public Enterprises Minister Ben Micah
Front row (from left): Incoming Chairman Andrew Johnson, Ajith Kodagoda (FNPF Chairman), outgoing Chairman Syd Yates, IPBC Chairman Thomas Webster

The company’s new CEO has hit the ground running, already identifying the key priorities.

‘There are some business imperatives for operating a mobile telecommunications business, which is no secret,’ Pradeep Lal told Business Advantage PNG. ‘These include network infrastructure, coverage and capacity issues. These are some immediate priority areas for the business we have identified which need urgent attention.’

The new ownership structure will also see the company rebranded:

‘Re-branding will commence as soon the intricacies have been worked out. Branding is not an everyday exercise and therefore we will take a very measured and practical approach to re-branding,’ said Lal, who could not confirm how the new branding would look, except to confirm that ‘Bemobile will remain part of any new re-branding exercise given the local peoples’ affinity and love for the brand.’

A review of Bemobile’s current products and services is also under way.

‘We are reviewing the existing suite of products and services being offered to identify our strengths and also new opportunities available to the business,’ he told Business Advantage PNG. ‘Based on these findings, we will be offering more customized and tailor made products to suit the market needs.’

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Lal also said the company was currently interviewing ‘some very qualified and experienced telecommunications executives’ for senior management roles, a process expected to be completed over the next few days.

A new board for the company is also being put in place, with Andrew Johnson replacing Syd Yates as Chairman, Wasantha Kumarasiri and Paul Komboi representing the PNG Government’s Independent Public Business Corporation and Ajith Kodagoda and Jaoji Koroi representing the Fiji National Provident Fund.


Editor’s note: a previous version of this story included information, first published in the Fiji Sun, about a purported contract for mobile towers issued to Network Services Limited (a division of Datec, which has operations in both PNG and Fiji). Bemobile has since issued a press release confirming that no such contract exists:

‘I can confirm that no supplier and service contracts have been issued to Network Services Limited or any other supplier,’ said Michael Ah Koy, outgoing acting MD for Bemobile.

‘The new Bemobile management wishes to correct this story by categorically stating that it has neither issued nor confirmed any supplier contract to-date.   Awarding of any major supplier contract will be done in fair and transparent manner in accordance with our suppler evaluation process,’ added Pradeep Lal, Regional CEO.