Absa unveiled its new look on Wednesday, including a colour scheme that claims a wider spectrum of red. The bank has effectively been chained to the staid Barclays brand for more than a decade – so when Barclays ditched it, it decided to make deep changes.
Absa is even changing the voice that answers those who phone into its call centres, on top of 27,000 different forms and a total of some 500,000 "artefacts". Absa on Wednesday morning finally showed the world the new logo it has been so secretive about (although that leaked) and the colour scheme it will now be using (though that too leaked).
But in coming months customers will find changes to the massive bank's identity will run far deeper than that, down to the way it answers the phone.
Absa has recorded more than 10,000 individual items for the interactive voice systems used in its various call centres, says group marketing head David Wingfield.
Watch: A secret rehearsal of Africa's first ‘drone fireworks’ for Absa's big reveal today
"We are going for a friendlier tone, with slightly younger voices and different intonation," he tells Business Insider South Africa.
Those recordings are on top of the 27,000 different forms Absa uses that will now have to be replaced – and the 345,000 branded pens, notepads, lanyards and pieces of clothing it had made to introduce the new look.
In total Absa will be replacing some 500,000 different "artefacts", says Wingfield, ranging from TV ads to the signs used inside branches.
Those changes will take some 10 months to complete, with three branches and 15 ATMs scheduled to be rebranded per day.
Using friendlier, younger voices alongside a more "digital" logo is all part of moving away from Absa's past, says Wingfield, which has kept its brand shackled for more than a decade.
British bank Barclays first moved in on Absa a decade ago, and it has not changed its look and feel since.
After Barclays dumped Absa in a shakeup of its global approach, the local bank decided it needed to leapfrog all the changes that had come to the world – and marketing – since then.
"The old Absa and Barclays were much more austere and serious," says Wingfield. "The world now is younger, digital. That's what we're trying to capture."
Along the way, Absa expanded its colour range around the "passion red" of its logo. Using everything from pink to orange "makes us more playful," says Wingfield, but it is also just sensible. Every cell phone and computer screen will display a slightly different shade of red anyway; trying to keep to a pure brand colour is a lost cause.
So Absa's logo button will always be either "passion red" on white, or white on red, but there will be many other warm hues in its branches and in some of its ads.
Including all the forms and all the signs used in some 620 branches scattered throughout the country.
With that kind of scale and spread there will be "something of a lag" until each instance of the Absa brand is updated, says Wingfield.
Source: The Insider
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that active mobile lines in Nigeria has increased to 162 million.
It said in its monthly Subscribers Operator Data posted on its website last week that the mobile lines figure was as at the end of May, adding that it rose from 160 million recorded in April.
With 162, 075,116 lines in May and 160, 081,051 in April, the increase in the number of lines was 1,994,065. However, the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) for active mobile lines had 217,566 users in May, same as in April.
The report said that the number of fixed wired/wireless for active mobile lines in May was 137, 010 compared to April, which had 136, 496 lines, indicating an increase of 514 lines.
According to the NCC, the number of Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) was 93,080 in May compared with 89,477 recorded in April, representing a rise of 3,603. It also revealed that teledensity rose by 143 in May to 11,609 as against 11,466 in April.
NCC also said that the number of connected mobile lines in May increased to 240,259,751 from 238,032,318 in April, recording an increase of 2, 227,433.
“The CDMA for connected lines for May was 3,586,095, the same figure with April,” the subscribers’ data revealed. The report said the number of fixed wired/wireless for connected lines in May was 345,210 compared to April that had 344, 892, an increase of 318 lines.
It also showed that the number of VOIP for connected lines in May was 611,376 as against 575,712 in April, rising by 35,644 lines. Meanwhile, the NCC has disclosed that a total of 13,203 mobile telecommunications subscribers in Nigeria changed their network providers for others in May.
The subscribers changed their service providers under the Mobile Number Portability (MNP). The commission made this known in its Incoming and Outgoing Porting Activities of Mobile Network Operators Report posted on its website. The NCC said that of the 13,203 porting activities in May, 6,498 were incoming, while 6,704 were outgoing.
It noted that 9,983 subscribers ported within the networks in April, showing an increase of 3,220 in May.
This week Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed visited neighbouring Eritrea, to be greeted by President Isaias Afwerki. The vast crowds that thronged the normally quiet streets of Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, were simply overjoyed.
They sang and they danced as Abiy’s car drove past. Few believed they would ever see such an extraordinarily rapid end to two decades of vituperation and hostility between their countries.
After talks the president and prime minister signed a declaration, ending 20 years of hostility and restoring diplomatic relations and normal ties between the countries.
The first indication that these historic events might be possible came on June 4. Abiy declared that he would accept the outcome of an international commission’s finding over a disputed border between the two countries. It was the border conflict of 1998-2000, and Ethiopia’s refusal to accept the commission’s ruling, that was behind two decades of armed confrontation. With this out of the way, everything began to fall into place.
The two countries are now formally at peace. Airlines will connect their capitals once more, Ethiopia will use Eritrea’s ports again – its natural outlet to the sea – and diplomatic relations will be resumed.
Perhaps most important of all, the border will be demarcated. This won’t be an easy task. Populations who thought themselves citizens of one country could find themselves in another. This could provoke strong reactions, unless both sides show flexibility and compassion.
For Eritrea there are real benefits - not only the revenues from Ethiopian trade through its ports, but also the potential of very substantial potash developments on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border that could be very lucrative.
For Ethiopia, there would be the end to Eritrean subversion, with rebel movements deprived of a rear base from which to attack the government in Addis Ababa. In return, there is every chance that Ethiopia will now push for an end to the UN arms embargo against the Eritrean government.
This breakthrough didn’t just happen. It has been months in the making.
Some of the first moves came quietly from religious groups. In September last year the World Council of Churches sent a team to see what common ground there was on both sides. Donald Yamamoto, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, and one of America’s most experienced Africa hands, played a major role.
Diplomatic sources suggest he held talks in Washington at which both sides were represented. The Eritrean minister of foreign affairs, Osman Saleh, is said to have been present, accompanied by Yemane Gebreab, President Isaias’s long-standing adviser. They are said to have met the former Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, laying the groundwork for the deal. Yamamoto visited both Eritrea and Ethiopia in April.
Although next to nothing was announced following the visits, they are said to have been important in firming up the dialogue.
But achieving reconciliation after so many years took more than American diplomatic muscle.
Eritrea’s Arab allies also played a key role. Shortly after the Yamamoto visit, President Isaias paid a visit to Saudi Arabia. Ethiopia – aware of the trip – encouraged the Saudi crown prince to get the Eritrean president to pick up the phone and talk to him. President Isaias declined, but – as Abiy Ahmed later explained – he was “hopeful with Saudi and US help the issue will be resolved soon.”
So it was, but one other actor played a part: the UAE. Earlier this month President Isaias visited the Emirates. There are suggestions that large sums of money were offered to help Eritrea develop its economy and infrastructure.
Finally, behind the scenes, the UN and the African Union have been encouraging both sides to resolve their differences. This culminated in the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, flying to Addis Ababa for a meeting on Monday – just hours after the joint declaration. Guterres told reporters that in his view the sanctions against Eritrea could soon be lifted since they would soon likely become “obsolete.”
It has been an impressive combined effort by the international community, who have for once acted in unison to try to resolve a regional issue that has festered for years.
Risks and dividends
For Isaias these developments also bring some element of risk. Peace would mean no longer having the excuse of a national security threat to postpone the implementation of basic freedoms. If the tens of thousands of conscripts, trapped in indefinite national service are allowed to go home, what jobs await them? When will the country have a working constitution, free elections, an independent media and judiciary? Many political prisoners have been jailed for years without trail. Will they now be released?
For Ethiopia, the dividends of peace would be a relaxation of tension along its northern border and an alternative route to the sea. Families on both sides of the border would be reunited and social life and religious ceremonies, many of which go back for centuries, could resume.
But the Tigrayan movement – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) - that was dominant force in Ethiopian politics until the election of Prime Minister Aiby in February, has been side-lined. It was their quarrel with the Eritrean government that led to the 1998–2000 border war.
The Eritrean authorities have rejoiced in their demise. “From this day forward, TPLF as a political entity is dead,” declared a semi-official website, describing the movement as a ‘zombie’ whose “soul has been bound in hell”. Such crowing is hardly appropriate if differences are to be resolved. The front is still a significant force in Ethiopia and could attempt to frustrate the peace deal.
These are just some of the problems that lie ahead. There is no guarantee that the whole edifice won’t collapse, as the complex details of the relationship are worked out. There are many issues that have to be resolved before relations between the two countries can be returned to normal. But with goodwill these can be overcome, ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity from which the entire region would benefit.