MTN recently published its annual report for the year ended 31 December 2018, revealing that CEO Rob Shuter received a total remuneration package of R42.9 million.
Shuter is not the only South African telecoms CEO who earns a high salary: Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub got paid R50 million while Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko received R26 million.
When these reports hit the media it always sparks debates about executive salaries and inequality in society.
While these CEO salaries may seem excessive when looking at the average salary in South Africa, it is not a constructive way to analyse compensation.
A more relevant assessment of CEO compensation is done through benchmarking peer salaries of similar positions around the globe.
This assessment shows that local telecoms CEO salaries are in most cases lower than their counterparts in other countries.
Global market for high-level skills
South Africa is home to two of the world’s largest mobile operators, Vodacom and MTN, and these two powerhouses produce some of the world’s best and most sought-after executives.
Vodacom and MTN’s executives can easily move to another country, which many of them have already done.
In fact, before Shuter took the reins at MTN he was the CEO for Vodafone’s Europe Cluster.
Joosub in turn was the CEO of Vodafone Spain before he returned to South Africa to run Vodacom.
A person with the skillset to run a large telecommunications company is extremely hard to find – especially when the company has operations across Africa.
Unless South African telecoms companies pay their top executives well, they will not attract the top talent. Eskom and the SAA serve as a warning of the alternative.
Telecoms CEOs – Salaries across the globe
A look at telecoms CEOs’ salaries across the globe reveals that local chief execs are at the lower end of the scale.
Considering the challenges related to running a company with operations in multiple African countries, Shuter and Joosub are well worth the money they earn.