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By our reporter

Few weeks ago, the big giants MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda cut call rates to Ugx 3 per second. That was good news to the customer. Not to the telecom’s. The news reaching us indicates that Airtel is already feeling the pinch.

On Friday 16th October 2015, Airtel employees were called for meeting. In what could be termed as cost cutting measures, the company combined Airtel money, data and mainstream distribution into one department. In a company where employees anticipate ‘rightsizing’, you can imagine how tense the corridors are when meeting memos are issued. And imagine the level of motivation to work.

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The distributors have also not been saved in the ongoing ‘‘re-organization’’ exercise. The number of distributors has reduced from 70 to 30. And according to inside sources, the number will be reduced to below 20 as the company moves away from micro distributor model of distribution to that similar to MTN Uganda. The one challenge with micro distribution is that it not only blocks out serious distributors but also lowers profitability of distributors.

Efforts to talk to Airtel’s public relations manager, Mr. Sandor Lyle Walusimbi, were futile. He did not respond to our.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Airtel Managing Director, Tom Gutjahr, noted that: the company has revised its strategic plan to better align the sales and distribution team to the business priorities. He continued: The Airtel brand in Uganda continues to grow; the restructuring is needed to ensure that our go-to-market model is appropriate for business conditions and that our operations remain competitive.

The changes, however, have left some zonal managers jobless. Airtel employees who survived merger of departments saw their salaries slashed by 90 percent. Employees who have been getting Ugx 10m will now be getting Ugx 1m as retainer. Simply put these guys have been put on commission basis.

According to Mr. Gutjahr Airtel shall be sourcing for more talent to join the existing Airtel Sales and Distribution team soon. With their recent rightsizing and salary cutting spree, however, one wonders what real talent the company can attract to liberate the sinking ship of the company’s business. Is Airtel bleeding? Your guess is as good as ours.

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