James Wekesa is a deal maker. As the chief commercial officer at Africa’s carriers’ carrier WIOCC, Wekesa has an interesting and varied job which includes managing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with WIOCC’s 14 African shareholders.
These shareholders are made up from a mix of incumbent fixed-line operators, mobile challengers, wholesalers and even a regulator, some of which are submarine cable landing station owners, others being landlocked and dependent on cross-border arrangements for access to international connectivity.
These strong relationships are a key element in WIOCC’s ability to provide its own customers with excellent service, enabling it to deliver their traffic seamlessly via a unique 55,000km pan-African terrestrial network.
WIOCC’s shareholders are also the company’s key channel to market in their respective domestic markets.
“Every day is different, but typically it is either a ‘Travel day’ or an ‘Office day’,” explains Wekesa.
“On a ‘Travel day’ I’ll be based at the offices of one of WIOCC’s shareholders, where I’ll work with them on service-related, provisioning, organisational structure, technical or administrative issues. I also help individual shareholders make deals with third parties, including other WIOCC shareholders!”
On an “Office day”, Wekesa will work from WIOCC’s main office in Nairobi and could be involved in a wide variety of things: “from interfacing with specific internal teams on finance and provisioning issues, for example, to having strategy-related discussions with WIOCC’s CEO, liaising with assorted regulators and government departments across Africa, or on a weekly round-up call with one of the shareholders”.
Wekesa’s career has spanned over 15 years and he joined WIOCC in 2009 from the Afsat Communication Group where he was general manager for Kenya and group head of special projects amongst other positions.
Away from WIOCC, Wekesa keeps himself very busy by keeping fit with gym sessions five days a week and providing homework support for his two boys – who eagerly look forward to their regular ‘Friday night is pizza night’ outings.
Away from the family, Wekesa makes time to provide valuable support to a school some 400km outside of Nairobi.