The Last Word

10 September 2021

Halonda Denis Enock, CTO Gilat Telecom Uganda

Halonda Denis Enock, CTO Gilat Telecom Uganda

What was your big career break?
This is always a hard question to answer. All my career journeys have contributed to what I have become and where I am now.

I am a proud Ugandan and started my career at where I really learnt about telecoms through my hands-on work installing BTSs and CPEs. After that I spent six years at Fortis Telecom Uganda, a fast-growing ISP with my final position there being CTO. Taking on a senior management role within an overseas company was a natural progression. There were lots of opportunities available from international companies looking to start and grow their businesses in Uganda so which one to join was a key decision for me which I spent a long time making.

Gilat Telecom has been operational across Africa for 20 years now. In 2016 it decided to launch an ISP in Uganda to deliver cost-effective communication capacity along with a wealth of value-added technologies and services to business clients over its extensive fibre and satellite links.

I could see that the company was committed to Africa and would continue to invest in Uganda and so I agreed to join as CTO and this was my big career break. It’s an international firm with a strong and fast-growing presence in Africa. It has improved my network with like minds in my industry and built on my knowledge and growth. Working there has brought me into contact with new experiences and technological solutions that are relevant to the industry.

Tell us about the telecom market in Uganda
Reforms and simplified licensing have made the telecom market in Uganda much more competitive. MTN is here competing with the incumbent, Uganda Telecom, and a raft of other operators including, of course, Gilat Telecom.

Fixed line broadband penetration remains low with people dependent on mobile infrastructure for voice and data. LTE can cope with data demand at the moment, however, we will move to 5G and MTN Uganda held trials early last year.

At Gilat Telecom we are firmly focused on the business market and our customers include banks, NGOs and enterprises of all sizes.

Who was your hero when you were growing up?
My dad was my hero when growing up. He was a good disciplinarian as a father. He taught me the value of earning respect by the works of your hands. This has helped me become the person that I am today. I strongly believe his approach is still relevant today.

If you could work in any other industry, which one would it be?
The Aviation Industry. Ever since I was a young boy, I wanted to be a pilot. All through my education I strived to study the mathematics and science that would help me become a pilot but, given the current pandemic, I’m not sure how this would have worked out. Being an IT Professional is however more fitting and satisfying especially in my home country of Uganda.

And, of course, now that I am working for an international company I get to travel both across Uganda - and to other countries too.

What would you do with US$1m?
Interestingly, I would not think of any investment in technological industry.

I would make one of the safest decisions and invest in government bonds and stocks. I would also invest in helping my community improve their standards of living by investing in Education and Health Care. Mostly I would want to build a hospital near my countryside home.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I welcome advice from people across all walks of life. Business acquaintances, family and friends. Here are the phrases I would pass on:
• Whatever challenge you experience you are not the first to experience it.
• Take each challenge as a learning curve and never give up.
• When the window of opportunity closes, look for the door to create another opportunity.

This advice has helped me learn to take failure positively and grow from it.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Cape Town because it encompasses our African heritage as well as being a bustling and creative place for commerce.

It’s an intersection of both the past and the present. As an African, it’s easy to relate to this.

The work life balance is ideal for growth as a person. The Cape of Good Hope is a good getaway for a much-needed holiday with the beautiful scenery, and nature on offer.

My favourite place in Uganda is Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest national park. It measures approximately 3,893 square kilometres and is home to a waterfall where the waters of the Nile flow through a narrow gorge only 7 metres wide before plunging 43 metres. The wildlife is amazing - 76 species of mammals as well as Uganda’s largest population of Nile crocodiles and 450 bird species.

The park is also home to The Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station, a 600 MW hydroelectric power project which will be the largest power-generating installation in Uganda.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever been asked?
Someone close to me once asked What do you do professionally? This was strange because I assumed they knew what I do for a living. Then I flipped the question and asked them what they think I do professionally. Let’s just say the answer was interesting and not close to what I do! But at least they now know what I do professionally!

What will you do when you retire?
Retirement is everyone’s end point as long as you are in the work place. I look at retirement as a starting point in another chapter of my life. I intend to take more time in the countryside carrying out farming activities and spend more time with my extended family. Maybe I will get to build a hospital there too. But I will still mentor the young professionals in the industry.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned?
No man is an island. We all need each other to achieve our goals. Working as a team in an office has helped me appreciate this greatly. A team can either make you successful or can break you. Team work and understanding one another is vital in both the work place and at home.  

What’s the best technological advancement in your lifetime?
Too many to list. For example, the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), the advancements of AI, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics, genetic engineering are going to change how we see the world.

In our lifetime we will have the privilege of seeing the positive impact that these technologies will bring to our communities. Just imagine what we will be talking about 20 years from today.

Which law would you most like to change?
The Computer Misuse Act 2011 in Uganda needs to be updated. This Act makes provision for the safety and security of electronic transactions and information systems; to prevent unlawful access, abuse or misuse of information systems including computers and to make provision for securing the conduct of electronic transactions in a trustworthy electronic environment and to provide for other related matters.

Times have changed globally and this law needs to evolve with the times especially since we are now in a global village. Different scenarios have to be taken into account for this law to be effective and efficient.