Balancing leadership with gratitude

Before accepting any acknowledgements, Andrew Hall, managing director of Paratus Namibia, credits his team first, knowing that without their support and hard work, he couldn’t begin to take on and win the business challenges he relishes.
Hall is a solutions cracker and someone who sees obstacles on the telecommunications landscape as mini hurdles that must simply be cleared.
Hall has been with Paratus since 2014 and began his life in telecommunications while at Telkom Ericsson from 2001 which was then bought by Vox Telecom/Orion Telecom in 2008. While still at school when he was busy with an ambitious plan to start an ISP in Outjo, he met the group’s executive chairman, Barney Harmse, Hall feels as if he’s always been tied to Paratus in some way and when Paratus acquired Vox in 2014, he was put in charge of the Namibia operations until being appointed MD in 2018.
His real passion is sales, and his skill is in cutting through complex scenarios to create solutions that work for his customers. To make that possible, he’s also been at the forefront of some big boundary breaks, such as delivering back-bone and open access connectivity in Namibia which has resulted in reducing the overall cost of connectivity, in creating opportunities for other network providers and, in general, in extending the competitive environment in Namibia.
Hall has also been the key driver in gaining approvals for the current Rights Issue which gives shareholders first right to acquire additional shares and to assist with doubling market capitalization as Paratus Namibia embarks on its next evolution.
Relevant and effective
He believes that what sets Paratus apart is how the company’s product offerings and service delivery have been developed to be more relevant and effective for its customers. The arrival of the Equiano subsea cable at the Paratus built landing station in Swakopmund is now changing Namibia’s economic fate, providing at least 20 times more capacity and high-speed connectivity to anywhere in the world while providing Paratus with the ability to create unequalled product packages and services for both businesses and consumers in Namibia.
While focusing on the opportunities in country, Hall also works with his colleagues to make the Paratus Group’s offering ever more compelling. “Together with Paratus Botswana, we have completed the last leg of the Botswana Kalahari Fibre route, and we can now offer an expressway connection from Johannesburg, via the Equiano cable at Swakopmund, to Europe,” he explains.
“Everyone talks about milestones in their business, but this is one for the entire region – it cannot be underestimated in its reach and import, especially now that there have been so many failures on other subsea cables.”
In Namibia, Hall is busy looking at innovative ways to answer the ever louder call for digital services and believes now is the time to harness the potential to meet an overbearing demand for instant gratification in connectivity.
Points of presence
Hall recognises that a big step towards meeting that demand is in creating retail points of presence – and he counts the strong retail network that the Namibian team has established with pride. “I see this as a key driver for growing the business across the various services that Paratus delivers.”
Having spearheaded its fibre-to-the-home service, SkyFi and LTE mobile services, for example, the Namibian team is now setting a benchmark for other Paratus group companies to follow suit.
“We have learned many lessons along the way, and we can share these with our colleagues across southern Africa so that they may expedite service delivery to their consumer markets too. Covid changed the way people work and we needed to adapt and extend our services beyond being a business-to-business service provider. While Namibia had always been conservative in its approach to new ways of working, Covid accelerated the demand overnight and we all had to embrace a revolutionary way of working anywhere at any time. We were the first service provider to launch an online sign-up platform in Namibia and help our customers by providing them with the fast and safe home connectivity services they needed.”
Shared vision
Hall is a hands-on and no-nonsense leader. At the coalface with his team, he believes the perceived boundaries disappear into the mist when you have a shared vision. In seeing the potential for market expansion, Hall and his colleagues are fixated on giving back. And they understand that education, particularly, will be essential for Namibians to take advantage of the opportunities presented by being fully connected.
In many cases when Paratus lays new fibre routes, the company gives remote schools in the area the opportunity to link on the network. “We support EduVision, which is a truly wonderful organisation that provides world class education through distance learning throughout the country. We have seen some amazing results achieved – students are not only accessing information through the online classes they are able to attend in remote areas, but they are also excelling and going on to higher education - and this is, of course, the ultimate payback that we all seek. Our association with EduVision goes back years and it’s a partnership of immense pride here – because we all know that education is the key to success.
Healthy connections
“We also believe in the connectivity that sport delivers. Our annual sponsorship of the Namibia Cycle Classic is helping to create healthy connections in a truly holistic way. It’s also growing year on year and demonstrates how people are realising that a healthy lifestyle pays so many dividends.
“I believe that you are more motivated if you are physically well and fit. I’m proud to say that we bring this in-house too by running various health and fitness programmes for our staff throughout the year. They’re completely voluntary for anyone at Paratus Namibia who wants to promote their own good health – and I’ve been astounded by the turn-out and indeed the results – people are feeling good about themselves, and this is a great motivator for everything they do, including their work!”
Hall would know a lot about this. A self-confessed adrenalin junkie, he gets hooked on anything that challenges him – anything he thinks is good for him and for the business. This is borne out when you consider he’s participated in plenty of cycling challenges alone – including two Desert Dashes and a ton of races in South Africa.
He is also a competitive angler when he has the time, so this Namibian born leader is a natural born achiever on many levels and, right now, it would appear there’s no stopping him – or his team – on the telecoms racetrack in Namibia.
He concludes by saying that he is grateful: “I’m grateful to Paratus for giving me the freedom to make things happen and I’m grateful to my team for helping me make things happen.”