ROOM TO GROW

Colombia 2016 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Andrés Ríos, General Manager of Siscoax, on the factors driving the company's growth, opportunities in the country and region, and the company's plans for the future.

 Andrés Ríos
BIOGRAPHY
Andrés Ríos holds a degree in electronic engineering from UPB and has wide experience in the construction, study, and infrastructure of telecommunication networking and energy. He is an active participant in the fields of certification and international guidelines for the production of fittings and cabling and fiber optic products. Rios is general manager for Siscoax and a member of the executive committee for Ingelel. He has over 20 years of experience in the telecommunication industry in the American continent. Rios is also a researcher of organizational cultures and new technology of telecommunication networks.

How was 2015 for Siscoax?

Last year was successful for us. We grew by more than 30% in 2015, even though the economy was sluggish and the dollar rose against the peso. We had a financial structure and strategy in place to ensure the devaluation did not affect us in a negative way. Instead of selling, we focused on stocking up on primary products and cutting down imports of new products while reducing costs.

What factors are driving your growth in 2016?

The first quarter of 2016 was great, and there have been some interesting projects. The biggest and most important one was the national fiber optic project in Colombia and the national fiber optic backbone network of Peru, both of which are being undertaken by Azteca Communicaciones. We have been the primary provider on those projects, delivering services and sales. In 1Q2016, we have grown by 28%, and with many countries seeking the same kind of fiber-optic investments and projects that are under way in Colombia, and we expect to grow more in the future. In municipalities outside the major cities, many people do not have access to television or internet. The fiber-optic network will connect all of these households and people to the internet, which is a huge development in terms of data access and services in media, banking, entertainment, online services, shopping, health, and education. Telecommunications is growing at 13% annually in Colombia, and there is an average of two cell phones per person; therefore, there is great demand for a robust network that only fiber optics can provide.

Is there room for growth in the sector in 2016, both in Colombia and throughout Latin America?

Fiber optics are being deployed throughout the region, connecting the police force, hospitals, schools, municipalities, and homes in almost every country in Latin America; hence, the potential is huge. We see many opportunities in Mexico, Brazil, and Central American countries, specifically Guatemala, along with the ongoing projects in Colombia and Peru. In fact, supply is not keeping up with demand. Everything is growing rapidly, and there is an ongoing transformation of the whole communication structure and systems of the region creating a truly revolutionary level of interconnectivity among society. That being said, first and foremost we are placing special priority on Pacific Alliance markets and countries.

What kinds of changes will the fiber optic network bring to Colombia and other countries?

It will revolutionize these countries. Businesses, cell phone operators, and media and entertainment companies will see huge growth in capacity, with an unprecedented number of TV channels on offer as well as fast internet and broadband capacity. Everything is faster, safer, and with far more data capacity. It is a network that will belong to none because it will belong to all.

What innovations have you brought to your products, and what innovations do you plan to add in the future?

It is simply about the quality of the materials we use. If there are any new technologies or innovations that add to the quality of these and the process of production and delivery, we will invest, be it machinery, chemicals, or materials. The aim is simple: to always use and offer top quality products. At the end of the day, we are competing with top international brands.

What do you expect of Siscoax for 2016?

In terms of business development, keep a double-digit growth in comparison to previous year, which is a realistic objective considering the exchange rate and the growing inflation over the last four years. We also want to keep providing the best human resources and the best quality in all aspects of our business to our end clients. We will keep growing and keep improving through 2016 and beyond. Our main goal is to engage our customers.