Long known as one of the most successful joint ventures in the Maldives, Dhiraagu is the nation’s leading telecom operator, providing fixed and mobile services that cover all the main populated islands of the archipelago. Dhiraagu’s CEO, Ismail Rasheed, details the company’s new youth-geared products and the success of the Dhiraagu Pay program for schools.
Why is Dhiraagu a perfect example of a successful Maldivian joint venture?
Dhiraagu is a public limited company with majority shares (52%) owned by Batelco Group of Bahrain, 41.8% owned by the Government of the Maldives, and the remaining 6.2% by the general public. It’s a great example of a successful joint venture with the government for several reasons, including the central role it played in establishing essential telecoms services across the country, which has significantly contributed to the development of the country while ensuring excellent value to customer and shareholders.
How extensive are Dhiraagu’s core services today?
Dhiraagu was the first operator to provide both telephone services, and internet and wireless broadband in the Maldives. Both our fixed network and mobile services are rolled out across the country in all the islands. Not only do we provide 3G and 4G mobile coverage, but we also have the widest fixed-home broadband network, covering all the major populated islands in the country. We recently started rolling out our Fibre to the Home (FTTH) and TV services, and now cover the majority of households including the major population centres, as well as several smaller islands.
How is Dhiraagu continuing to connect a growing youth population?
Dhiraagu has made tremendous progress in bringing the latest services to the entire country. We have recently launched a number of services for the youth segment, including Mamen, our next generation of prepaid mobile, which allows users to design their own mobile plan. We have also introduced music streaming and augmented reality gaming platforms targeted at youth. Likewise, our CSR program has a significant focus on youth empowerment and development, as well.
How have Dhiraagu Pay and Dhiraagu TV been received since they were launched last year?
Both Dhiraagu TV and Dhiraagu Pay were well received by our customers, and we continue to enrich these services by adding more digital lifestyle options for our customers. Our focus is to help customers to take on tomorrow by bringing fit-for-purpose, future-proof digital services. We introduced Dhiraagu Pay as part of that focus. One of the initiatives that we launched with Dhiraagu Pay is a program for schools, whereby parents can give their children NFC-embedded stickers that can be used to buy food via their mobile wallet. Previously, parents had to make sure to give their children exact change every morning; now they receive alert notifications when the stickers are used. We have merchants across the country in almost every island in the Maldives to further support this initiative.
How is Dhiraagu differentiating its services in a competitive and saturated market?
Dhiraagu has a wide range of services. In addition to mobile, we also provide fixed, broadband, TV, and other enrichment services. We have a very strong enterprise portfolio in all the areas that we operate. Except for TV, we are the national leader in broadband, Internet, fixed line, voice and mobile services. There’s competition in all the areas that we operate, but the reason why customers choose to stay with us is because of our focus on providing the best customer experiences.
How is Dhiraagu overcoming the challenge of operating in a dispersed archipelago, and where do you see feasible synergy potential with institutional investors?
Our unique geography is one of our biggest challenges because the population is dispersed across many islands. Of 186 inhabited islands, 60% of them have less than 1,000 people, but we are proud to provide them with the necessary infrastructure to receive our services. We have nine regionally located service centers across the country from which to bring our service closer to our customers. Managing technical resources is difficult as well because we need to rely on support from other countries where large industry vendors are located. We have overcome this challenge by building as much expertise locally as possible. The Batelco Group brings value through best practice knowledge, experience from other markets, as well as leverage through the scale of their international market strength.
Why is now a good moment to consider investing in the Maldives?
The time is right for potential investors to consider investing in the Maldives. Dhiraagu is a very good example of a long-term joint venture formed with the government. The company has brought innumerable benefits to the people, shareholders and country alike and will continue to do so in the future. Dhiraagu is committed to provide world-class communication services to meet the needs of all potential investors.