Meet Telkom’s new CEO Serame Taukobong – the man who revived its mobile business

Business Insider SA

Serame Taukobong
Serame Taukobong (Image supplied)
  • Serame Taukobong will take over from Sipho Maseko as Telkom's CEO in 2022.
  • He's already grown the company's mobile business by 300% since joining in 2018.
  • And 15 years' experience working for MTN across Africa helps too.
  • But Taukobong didn't start his career in telecommunications.
  • And it's his love of soccer which saw his previous employer signing some big deals.
  • For more stories go to

Serame Taukobong has been appointed as Telkom's CEO-designate and will take over from Sipho Maseko in July 2022. Taukobong is no stranger to the telecommunications giant, having already spent more than three years reviving its mobile business, which has doubled in value to R20 billion under his watch.

Maseko will be handing over Telkom’s reins to Taukobong after almost nine years at the helm. During his time at the part-state-owned enterprise, Maseko has steered Telkom though turbulent waters typified by dwindling landlines, the highly competitive mobile environment, and the uptake of fibre internet as an alternative to DSL.

And although Telkom still faces many tribulations, it's been touted as a success story of how state-involved business can work with private participation. Telkom managed to increase its revenue by more than 35%, grow its active mobile customer base from 1.5 million to more than 16 million, and produce the highest fibre connectivity rate in the market, during Maseko's tenure.

It's now up to Taukobong, who joined in 2018 as head of the Telkom Consumer Business, to maintain the company's upward trajectory.

Serame Taukobong, from humble beginnings

Born on 23 May 1970 at Baragwanath Hospital, Taukobong spent his childhood in Soweto, attending Molalatladi Lower Primary School. But, even as a child, Taukobong moved around, finishing school at Marist Brothers St Henry's in Durban and then moving to Cape Town.

Over the next few years Taukobong worked towards his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

From lab assistant to marketing genius

Becoming a telecommunications expert wasn't always what Taukobong had in mind. After leaving UCT, Taukobong got his first job as a lab assistant at a refinery in Durban.

His highly successfully marketing career started at Unilever, where he was promoted to brand manager in less than two years. He then went on to join the South African Breweries (SAB) and during his eight-year tenure oversaw the marketing for some of the country's best-loved beer brands, like Hansa Pilsner and Castle Lager.

Taukobong also had a stint as the chief marketing officer at M-Net.

MTN and the soccer connection

MTN became Taukobong's home for the next 15 years, starting in Uganda in 2003 as the chief operations officer before being deployed to Iran to handle sales and distribution in an unfamiliar market.

During this time, Taukobong furthered his studies through the IMD Business School and Wharton School of Business, specialising in marketing.

Taukobong returned to South Africa in 2009 and was appointed as the chief marketing officer of the group's local operations. During this time, he was responsible for driving the MTN 8 soccer competition, which had secured a sponsorship deal just one year earlier.

It's a connection between MTN and soccer, largely forged by Taukobong, which still exists today. It's also under Taukobong's watch that MTN sponsored the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Manchester United.

In 2011, Taukobong was part of the Gordon Institute of Business Science's global advancement programme. Taukobong ended his time with MTN while working as the CEO of the group's operations in Ghana.

During his stint with MTN, he scooped numerous awards, including being named as CEO of the year while in Ghana in 2014.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel) 

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