PANO – The Ho Chi Minh Avenue and mobile phone waves of Movitel, a joint venture between the Vietnamese Military Telecommunication Group (Viettel) and Mozambique’s SPI Invespar Company, were the first interesting impression for me upon setting foot in the capital city of Maputo in Mozambique.
The Avenue of Solidarity
The spacious Avenue named after Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh is over 1km long running across the city hall of Maputo and cutting through some of the capital’s famous and main roads like Karl Marx and Lenin.
After strolling with a peaceful mind, I took a photo right beside the road sign for Av. Ho Chi Minh. In 1977, the avenue was named after Ho Chi Minh in order to express Mozambican’s love for President Ho Chi Minh – Vietnamese hero of national liberation – who has positively influenced national liberation movements in Africa, including Mozambique.
For a long time, images of Uncle Ho have been in Mozambique’s textbooks. Knowing that I am Vietnamese, the Mozambican people old and young put their thumbs up as a friendly gesture and said: “Oh, Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh!” Some even also lightly pumped their fists against mine as brothers.
What could be better than the first time arriving in the far-off country to be warmly greeted by the local people and to feel their deep affection for our country and their respect for our leaders?
Vietnamese Ambassador to Mozambique Dang Giang also shared his experience. He came to the country for the first time in 1979 to learn Portuguese – the major language in Mozambique, and immediately after arriving at the airport in Maputo, the Vietnamese students were touched to be informed that they would go via Ho Chi Minh Avenue to their dormitory.
“In Mozambique, we were proud to be Vietnamese and President Ho Chi Minh’s fellow-countrymen”, Giang said.
The miraculous simcard
Movitel’s headquarters is located in a busy street in Maputo. From a distance, I could see the orange building – the colour of the company’s brand.
Movitel’s Director General Nguyen Cong Han said that Viettel had invested about 70 per cent of total capital in the joint venture.
It officially started its business from May 15th, 2012. As of the first quarter of this year, or after 10 months after operation, Movitel became the leading telecom company in terms of infrastructure in the country with 2,475 2G and 3G base transceiver stations and its services reach 147 out of 148 districts (2,175 communes) in Mozambique.
Meanwhile, Movitel’s two local rivals MCell and Vodacom had only 1,200 stations after 10 years of operation.
Moreover, Movitel also revolutionized the line rental cost in the African country. Mr. Ho Van Hao, Head of Department of Planning and Administration of Movitel, recalled the first days when Viettel’s officials arrived in Mozambique to negotiate the establishment of a subsidiary. A local leader held up a simcard and asked Vietnamese investors if they could make the simcard price equal in rural areas and cities.
At the time, price of simcard in the countryside in Mozambique was always 2-3 times higher than in cities. This challenge became part of Viettel’s operation in the country.
Before officially running business, Movitel had spent over a month to building up facilities and even extended its mobile network infrastructure to far-reaching localities. In addition, the company fixed its simcard prices and other services nationwide even cheaper than that provided by local companies’.
Moreover, Movitel also offered free simcards and other preferential services for local students, officers and policemen, as well as provided free Internet service for schools. No wonder, the Mozambican people have reserved a very warm heart for Vietnam and Movitel as well, Hao noted.
For his part, Mr. Francisco Chate, Director of Telecommunications and Postal Services, said that the Mozambican people love Vietnam and Movitel. In the past time, Vietnam was a bright example for Mozambique during the national resistance war.
At present, Movitel is creating a big leap forward in the field of mobile network infrastructure for the country. After a short time, Movitel turned Mozambique into one of the top three African nations for fast-growing telecommunications infrastructure.
From being a “luxurious product” for only well-to-do people, Movitel turned mobile services into something accessible for both urban and rural people. It is really a miracle”, said Francisco Chate.Chate added that he admired the core values in Movitel’s business philosophy for social development. The company always runs their services better than what is pledged. Noticeably, there are no businesses in Mozambique that can do this like Movitel.
Vietnam’s images are also bearing the hallmark in other fields. For a long time, Vietnam has been sending its experts to Mozambique to help the African country develop healthcare, education and training, and agriculture.
Money is not everything
Movitel’s local employees all respect and want to learn about the regular, scientific and enthusiastic working style of Vietnamese technicians and workers. 32-year-old Levis, a marketing employee in Movitel, said that in the past, he had worked for many leading companies, including Coca Cola.
Though he has recently been employed by Movitel, his Vietnamese colleagues’ working styles came as a surprise to him. “They start working from 7am to 8pm, even 10-11pm at peak time and they even volunteer to work overtime”, said Levis.
“Our Vietnamese co-workers wholeheartedly instruct us how to work scientifically to gain the highest efficiency, especially the working spirit with our hearts. Moreover, the Vietnamese have always worked wholeheartedly and been very friendly with local employees in daily life”, added Levis.
I remember several years ago when Major-General (now Lieutenant-General) Hoang Anh Xuan, General Director of Viettel, talked about the group’s global-scale development strategy. It planned not only to enter international markets and earn profits, but also to popularize Vietnamese businesses’ images in particular and Vietnam and its people in general worldwide.
“We always teach our employees that each of them is a Vietnamese messenger or representative abroad. Thus, whatever and whenever they work, they should leave strong impressions on foreign friends on Vietnam’s country and people”, said General Xuan.
Vietnam and Mozambique established diplomatic relations on June 25th, 1975 and the Vietnamese community in this African country started soon after. Up to now, there are about 400 Vietnamese people in Mozambique, including staff of the Embassy, experts, students, small traders and Movitel’s employees who make up the biggest figure. They are contributing to building Mozambique as well as strengthening friendly ties between the two peoples.
Vietnamese Ambassador in Mozambique Dang Giang said that the Embassy, in association with local authorities, is scheduling to upgrade Ho Chi Minh Avenue, including adding a Vietnamese words “President Ho Chi Minh-Vietnam’s father-figure” on the avenue’s road sign. Vietnamese people are trying their best to treasure and promote the noble image of Uncle Ho in the Mozambican residents’ hearts.
Mr. Chate said that Movitel’s effective operation has contributed to strengthening the Mozambican people’s trust in Vietnam and its people. Movitel is the most effective foreign investment model in this African nation. He also hoped that more Vietnamese companies will do likewise to exploit Mozambique’s potentials such as coal, oil and gas, tourism and agriculture in the coming time.
“These Vietnamese messengers in Movitel are contributing to opening more business opportunities in Mozambique for Vietnamese firms”, affirmed Chate.
Written by Ho Quang Phuong
Translated by Van Hieu