Ismail Rasheed

Ismail Rasheed

CEO & Managing Director at Dhiraagu

Telecom & IT / Maldives

“We provide 4G services to the entire population”

Dhiraagu is the Maldives leading telecom provider and the biggest supporter of the nascent start-up and ICT ecosystem. Over the decades, the company has brought Maldivians together, first with microwaves and now with fibre-optics.

As Dhiraagu celebrated its 30th year of existence in October, please share with us the most important landmarks of this journey and where Dhiraagu finds itself today.
Over the past 30 years Dhiraagu has brought significant developments to enrich the lives of people in Maldives. When we first began operations we were providing basic fixed telephony service and it was available only to the capital island Male’ and very few resorts in the area. We then started expanding our microwave network to provide a fixed line connectivity to each of the 200 inhabited island, which we completed and achieved during the late 1990s.

We were the first to introduce internet service in 1996 and GSM mobile service in 1999. In 2012 we established a 1,253 km fibre optic submarine cable connecting from north to south of Maldives. Today we are full service provider of total telecom and digital services offering fixed, mobile, broadband, IPTV and customized solutions for enterprise businesses.

How would you describe the Maldivian Telecoms industry?
The Maldives has one of the most difficult topographies to operate in the world as less than 99 percent of the country is land and with over 1,000 tiny islands spread across the ocean. This makes providing the same services across all islands, one of the biggest challenges. Some of  these islands have less than a thousand people, but to provide our services we still need to invest in the same infrastructure and setup.

Despite this challenge, we provide 4G to the entire population and recently achieved the milestone of providing FTTH to 75 percent of the country’s households, which are spread along 58 islands. The other challenge is not being able to have economies of scale given the limited customer numbers in this market.

How does Dhiraagu support the local ICT sector?
We encourage local entrepreneurs in the ICT sector to collaborate with us to develop solutions for the market. For instance, with Sparkhub, a local management consultancy firm founded and driven by a young local enterprising team, we have collaborated to develop platforms to support and establish the ICT start-up culture and help young emerging entrepreneurs.

How would you describe the foreign investment environment in the Maldives?
Dhiraagu is a great example of a longstanding, successful foreign partnership with the government of the Maldives, demonstrating that there is a conducive environment and regulatory framework for foreign investment in the country. This partnership has brought social and economic development to the country and consistent good returns to our shareholders.

Dhiraagu has consistently spearheaded innovation in the Maldives. What new technologies have you identified and planned to introduce in the Maldives in the short and medium term?
We have continued to bring new technologies and offer innovative solutions to our customers. We will continue to do so and make sure that our customers are kept abreast with the advancements and no one is left behind. It is our brand promise to enable our customers to get ahead and take on tomorrow.