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Vahid Mursaliyev: We will try our best so that customers feel happy with us

“If a person has a goal, a will and an ability to fight for a purpose, God will bless him”.

Oxu.Az presents an interview with the president of “Azercell Telecom” LLC, Vahid Mursaliyev:

What proposals is Azercell planning to introduce into the changing market under your leadership?

- Whatsapp, Skype, Viber, Facebook and other social platform applications mean a serious and intensive loss for our business. But we should be able to make the best use of them. You may ask, how? For instance, subscribers who wish to use these platforms definitely have to have an access to the Internet. That is why we reduced internet prices by 55% during 2015. As a result, the number of internet users has increased by 39%.

Mobile operators need to be more flexible to respond to current changes occurring in the market. It is necessary to adapt to the market immediately. Previous heads had also taken it into consideration, so that the company could always keep pace with the market.

We all know that messaging, etc. is now more popular than voice calls. What should we do in our own turn? We have to facilitate Internet use. We have to reconsider our pricing policy and expand our services for larger areas.

Mr.Mursaliyev, you have mentioned about 4G. We would like to know when all the country population will be provided with 4G access.

 - I do not want to give a wrong prediction in this regard. However, at present, this is one of our main strategic targets, especially expansion of this service in the regional and rural areas. We have already provided 4G service in the most areas of Baku and Absheron. We were the first to provide 4G for the commercial use in Azerbaijan and Transcaucasia. As for 3G service, it is available almost everywhere.

A while ago we had internal discussions where we elaborated on certain action plan for expanding the application of 4G service. Thus, we will carry out relevant activities to expand 4G service in 5 regions. Later we plan to expand this service throughout the whole country.

Today one of the priority duties of Azerbaijan is to increase the size of payments to the budget by means of developing a non-oil sector. Do you think we have been too late for realizing this issue? Which areas for improvement should Azerbaijan prioritize?

- A sharp drop in oil price in the world market affects our economy as well as it does in majority of countries. However, I think that we have made a successful use of our energy resources and gas fields. Thus, within a short period of time an excellent infrastructure has been created. The country economy has made a major leap forward. It is an undeniable fact.

However, not any country of the world can build a long-term strategy relying only on energy resources, as sooner or later they can deplete.

Even in the USA they have already started using electric cars. Producing biofuel from water and other natural resources and using it as a jet fuel appears to be on the spotlight and in the agenda nowadays. To be exact, developing such systems will significantly reduce the demand for energy resources. For that, it is important to improve a non-oil sector in Azerbaijan. In recent years, Azerbaijan has taken important actions in this field. I highly appreciate our country’s policy in this sphere.

When talking about a non-oil sector in Azerbaijn, the first thing that comes to my mind is ICT sector. I want to mention that the President of Azerbaijan has signed a number of Decrees and Orders in this regard. I think that by 2020 the profits made from information and communications technologies will prevail over oil sector.Concerning your question, I do not think that Azerbaijan is late for realizing this issue.

What do you expect from new owners of the company?

- TeliaSonera’s decision on leaving Eurasia market does not mean selling of Azercell. As it comes to buying of TeliaSonera’s shares in Fintur Holding by Turkcell Company, I would like to remind that this company is the second founder in the holding. There is a concept in an international law according to which if one of the founders wishes to sell its shares, first it makes an offer to another founder and also gives a relevant announcement. No other negotiations take place unless the other founder officially rejects the offer.

Turkcell has twice published official press-releases in this regard and has announced that a formal offer on purchase and sale has been put forward. At present, the negotiations are being carried out between the parties. I would like to note that if any progress is made during negotiations, TeliaSonera will bring due information to public attention.  The last step of the company, i.e leaving Nepal’s market is also a good proof to it. Thus, initial documents regarding Ncell company sales were signed. Only a few hours later TeliaSonera Company gave relevant official statement to the public.

You may wonder whether Turkcell is the only buyer. I also want to mention that perhaps, another company is interested in buying company’s shares. That means there can be other buyers, too. But today only Turkcell makes an official statement.

Currently, there are 3 players in the market. The company lead by you keeps control over 48% of the market. What does competition in this area mean to you?

- Absolutely. I even wish the company to have more than 48% of shares in the market. Certainly, our competition among mobile operators is customer-centered, to be exact they are supposed to win. Surely, we are not afraid. But we have to be agile. We have to respond to any changes occurring in the market. We also have a perfect team. I think we will maintain our leading position in the market for long years. 

We also would like to know about the innovations that the company plans to introduce in 2016...

- I will not go into all the details now. But generally speaking, I can say that as in previous years, we will continue bringing new technologies to Azerbaijan. New services will be offered to customers. We also plan to expand 4G service. Besides, we will launch new campaigns in the market. We emphasize that we will bring 4G, but there must be a device supporting this service. There is a very few number of devices supporting 4G in our regions. What should we do? We have to make it available for our subscribers.

Yes, nowadays our buyers sometimes cannot afford to buy this type of devices, because they find it unaffordable for their budget. The Company introduces some discount campaigns into the market and so on, offers its products to subscribers. In the forthcoming year Azercell will remain loyal to its traditions. I even want to note that the change of founders will not affect company’s activity at all.

Our colleagues are doing their best towards launching new products in the market. Some of them even work till 11-12 o’clock at night. In fact, the company did not oblige them to do it. It means that there is a corporate culture in Azercell. Everyone considers the company as his own.

Mr. Mursaliyev, on the 21st of December Azerbaijan moved to floating currency regime. How will it affect Azercell’s activity and its tariffs?

-Of course, we are going through a difficult period. We have already experienced it once, now it is the second time that we are facing the same situation. However, it was an expected and inevitable situation. We are an oil exporting country. Oil prices have dropped about 3 times in the global market. Obviously, in these conditions it was impossible to maintain the stable exchange rate of manat. That could have more negatively affected country’s economy.

I think it was an inevitable and right decision in terms of saving country’s economy. Concerning the issue whether the devaluation will affect our customers and company, I want to emphasize that our strategy has always been focusing mainly on our customers and their satisfaction is our top priority. Therefore, we will do our best so that they feel happy with us in terms of price and service.

Mr. Mursaliyev, how many hours are you talking on the phone? Is your number always available?

- It is available within 24 hours. Not only my number but all numbers of company employees are constantly available. Since our business is dynamic, our phones should be kept on. The population of Azerbaijan uses the phone for 24 hours. For this reason, Azercell opened the first customer service operating 24 hours a day, and therefore our phones must always be available. As for me, I'm on the phone for about 1-2 hours a day.

As the first Azerbaijani leader of the company, what recommendations would you like to give to young generation of Azerbaijan?

 - First, my advice to young people is to be patriots and to love their homeland, state and language. Second, they need to get certain level of education. They should not do it only for the purpose of getting higher education, otherwise they will be an ordinary specialist. Nowadays, being an ordinary specialist is not enough. Nowadays, leadership, management and making the right decisions at the right time are very important skills.  They should be purposeful and set a goal for themselves. In order to achieve this goal they should fight for it. In a word, they should get an academic education or an occupation. Also, it is important to grow up in good-natured and humane spirit. I think one of the most amazing feelings in the world is the feeling of satisfaction that you get while lending a hand to needy people.

They should respect the elderly and younger people. Perhaps, a person in front of you is illiterate, poor and lonely compared to you, but you have to bear in mind that he also has a personality.

There are two important feelings that a human being should possess: fear and shame. Without these feelings people can be dangerous for themselves, close circles and society as well. I always say that may God never deprive people of such feelings.

You are a graduate of the present Baku State University and you also got education in the USA. It would be interesting to know your opinion about Western education and education in Azerbaijan. In what aspects does the education in Azerbaijan fail?

- If we are talking about the present time, I think the education in the USA, England, Switzerland and in other western countries is progressive in all aspects. Maybe, it is more comfortable to get secondary eduction in those countries rather than in Azerbaijan. But the higher educational system is well developed in those countries.

Those who study in the West are back to their countries as well-prepared specialists. Once they return to their countries, they just need to apply what they have learned abroad. I do not want to say that this system is poor in Azerbaijan, however relevant reforms are gradually implemented here, too and it is quite normal. We are an independent and young state, and therefore it will take time to improve our educational system and carry out relevant reforms as in other fields. As an example, I can mention Singapore.

Some time ago they had the worst educational system ever. Then they started implementing serious reforms and sent so many young people to different countries to study, and on returning back to Singapore they started working mostly in the field of education. Now the educational system of Singapore ranks the forth place in the world for its level and perfection. The most interesting fact is that each year Singapore gets millions of revenues from the education. Yes, there are enough people who graduated from our universities and currently working in high positions.

For instance, more than 95% of Azercell employees got education in Azerbaijan. In our company there are a few employees who studied abroad. I also would like to mention that although in our company there are programmers who got education in Azerbaijan, they can even be considered as worldwide specialists. There is no doubt that there will be times when we will have a perfect educational system in line with international standards.

Mr. Mursaliyev, do you devote time to reading?

- Speaking figuratively, I do not read on the ground, but ‘’in the air’’, means on a plane. I like reading very much. But to tell the truth, I can’t devote time to reading so much. According to the nature of work, I am often on business trips. I can spend time on reading namely on business trips. It has two reasons. First, I can’t sleep on a plane at all. Second, reading shortens the way to the destination. Therefore, I read one or two literary books during each business trip. Usually I prefer to read the works of Chingiz Abdullayev. Let’s say that he does not get tired of writing and I do not get tired of reading. I can’t find time for reading at home because I feel tired.

I also would like to mention that I have music education. I play the tar. As soon as I have free time, I go to the sitting room and perform something for my own pleasure. Besides tar, I can also play the oud and guitar.There was even a time when ‘’I appeared’’ on TV with the oud and guitar. I say ‘’I appeared’’ because I participated in one of music festivals held within our regional ensemble. You may ask how I became interested in playing the tar. It was my parents’ initiative in my childhood, but, of course, my wish was also taken into consideration.

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