SERAME Taukobong, has helped Telkom rise as new measures fall into place to assist and benefit consumers. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
SERAME Taukobong, has helped Telkom rise as new measures fall into place to assist and benefit consumers. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Telkom has found the best leader – Taukobong

By Wesley Diphoko Time of article published Aug 8, 2021

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TELKOM is one of the most successful quasi-state enterprises. In 2013, it almost collapsed but, thanks to competent leadership, led by Sipho Maseko, the telecoms giant is standing tall among other quasi-state entities and telecoms giants.

When the chief executive announced that he was stepping down, it would have been reasonable to worry about who would be taking over from him.

More importantly, the thought of finding a capable leader with the right skills to continue what Maseko started must have occupied the minds of many who care about the important tech giant of South Africa.

Fortunately, Maseko was not alone in resuscitating Telkom; he was surrounded by a group of capable leaders who were instrumental, behind the scenes, in rebuilding Telkom.

One such leader, Serame Taukobong, has been appointed to take over from Maseko when he bows out in June next year.

To industry insiders, this comes as no surprise but many South Africans are wondering about the next leader of the African telecoms giant.

Taukobong is no stranger to the Telkom boardroom. He is the man behind the rise of Telkom Mobile. In June 2018, the entity had more than five million customers.

Under Taukobong’s stewardship, Telkom Mobile tripled its customer base in two years, to 15 million, reflecting a 300% growth. Today, Telkom Mobile is the third-biggest mobile operator in South Africa, thanks to Taukobong’s leadership.

His understanding of marketing and sales, coupled with his experience in the telecoms space, makes him the perfect candidate to lead Telkom.

He is an engineer and an acclaimed marketer with a lot of experience in the telecommunications space. His experience of leading will stand him in good stead. In 2004, Taukobong was the chief operations officer at MTN Uganda, where he led with excellence, to the point of being appointed chief executive. He has extensive experience in the field, having previously held senior leadership positions with other companies, among them General Electric Africa.

Taukobong has been running a very important part of Telkom which is arguably a growth engine for the broader telecoms group of companies.

He has been running Telkom Consumer Business, an internet service and converged communications services provider offering fixed and mobile broadband solutions.

The Telkom brand has regained its strength after suffering badly due to poor service. Maintaining a positive public image will be key in getting more South Africans to fall in love with the blue and white brand again. In this area, Taukobong has proved himself.

In 2006, he was appointed sales and distribution executive at MTN Irancell where, among other achievements, Taukobong established a distribution footprint of more than 7 000 points of presence.

His marketing expertise was proved when he successfully led the MTN sponsorship team for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. The MTN campaign was known as “Ayoba”. Taukobong made Ayoba a household name to millions of South Africans and beyond. The campaign won numerous awards locally and abroad. His marketing skills will come in handy for Telkom to maintain and improve its public image.

Telkom has a major role to play in enabling South Africa to realise its Fourth Industrial Revolution dreams. The entity has started to deliver on this through its partnership with the SABC, to enable some aspects of its streaming plans. As the SABC undergoes the digital transformation, Telkom is well-positioned to close the SABC tech gaps.

When Taukobong takes over from Maseko, he will carry a huge responsibility of primarily driving South Africa's digital transformation. Although there are many players who can play the role, Telkom, for historical reasons, has a primary role in shaping the digital future of South Africa.

He is the ideal man to make this possible. For now, he has to take guidance from Maseko who has excellently steered Telkom towards success and respect.

The next few months are critical for the leadership transition to make sure that beyond Maseko, the telecom giant can continue to grow and never go back to its 2013 performance.


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