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BUA Group, Others Race to Buy 9Mobile

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BUA Group, Virgin Mobile from the United Kingdom and Vodacom of South Africa are some of the companies in the running to buy 9Mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria.

A few others have also signified interest to takeover 9Mobile which still enjoys large patronage and loyalty despite its crisis, according to Daily Post.

The number one item on negotiations with investors is the offset its $1.2 billion bank loan.

BUA, Virgin and Vodacom are set to submit their memoranda of interest and technical presentations.

The banks have appointed advisers, which include Standard Bank of South Africa and Citibank of New York, to receive and evaluate bids.

According to Daily Post, every bid will then be reviewed before they are tendered to the board of new directors.

Trouble started when Etisalat Group disclosed on the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange two weeks ago that it had pulled out of Etisalat Nigeria and was transferring 45 per cent of its stake and 25 per cent of its preference shares in its Nigerian subsidiary to United Capital Trustees Limited, the legal representative of the lending banks.

Aside Etisalat Group, other shareholders of Etisalat Nigeria include Mubadala Development Company with a 40 per cent stake and Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), representing the Nigerian shareholders, with 15 per cent.

Etisalat Nigeria had in 2013 approached a consortium of 13 local banks for a loan of $1.2 billion for network upgrade and expansion. The money was sourced in dollar and naira denominations.

However, citing the economic downturn of 2015-2016 and naira devaluation, which negatively impacted on the dollar-denominated component of the loan, Etisalat wrote its creditors informing them of its intention to halt the repayment of the loan in instalments, until such a time that it was able to raise more money.

The banks involved in the loan deal are: Zenith Bank, GTBank, FirstBank, UBA, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank.

Zenith Bank has the highest exposure to Etisalat amounting to $262 million and N80 billion, GTBank has the second highest exposure of $138 million and N42 billion, Access Bank follows with $131 million and N40 billion.

Etisalat Nigeria also owes UBA $125 million and N38 billion; FirstBank – $79 million and N24 billion; Fidelity Bank – $56 million and N17 billion; Stanbic IBTC – $25 million and N7.5 billion; FCMB – $15 million and N4.5 billion; and Ecobank – $10 million and N3.1 billion.

But Etisalat Nigeria had countered this information, stating that it had paid $500 million up till February 2017. It said the outstanding loan to the lenders stands at $227 million and N113 billion, a total of about $574 million if the naira portion is converted to US dollars.

In their argument, bank officials insist they had financed the importation and purchase of the towers through Huawei of China to help build the infrastructure backbone for Etisalat and that when the company earned foreign currencies from the sale, it failed to repay its US dollar loans as was done by other telcos like MTN and Airtel.

Etisalat Nigeria, after its take over by banks, constituted a new board following gale of resignations.

Hakeem Bello-Osagie first resigned as Chairman.

A few days later, chief executive officer (CEO), Mr. Matthew Willsher, and chief financial officer (CFO), Mr. Wole Obasunloye, both stepped down.

In the new board is a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and chairman of African Finance Corporation (AFC) as its chairman.

Etisalat Nigeria on last Wednesday officially unveiled its new brand identity, 9mobile, with a new logo.

Boye Olusanya, chief executive officer of 9mobile, said the new logo was in conformity with the new name and reflects the bold and creative attributes which the company shared with its valued subscribers.

According to him, the rebranding will enable the company to connect more with its subscribers, especially the youth.

“In our nine years of operations, we have remained at the forefront of innovation and take pride in consistently delivering superior experiences to our subscribers.

“We continue to establish meaningful partnerships with our customers and partners by providing platforms that support their goals and aspirations”.

Olusanya said that the new name and brand were a deliberate representation and confirmation of its Nigerian heritage.

He added that that though the company’s name and brand changed, the values on which it operated remained the same.

“The colour green, both its light and dark variants, reflects vibrancy, dynamism, life and youth, as well as the brand’s ‘Nigerianness’.

“With the launch of our new brand, our commitment to providing our subscribers with best-in-class telecommunications services continues.

“We live in a digitalised world and 9mobile is positioned to deliver more platforms, products and services, using the power of technology.

“The vivacity of our new brand is an affirmation of our creativity and the recent launch of value adding services, such as our BlazeOn and Kwikcash platforms, are testaments to this”, Olusanya added.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Ndukwe, Okigbo, Others for Anambra ICT Summit

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By peter oluka

Anambra is seeking a new positioning on digitlization as it prepares for its flagship Information and Communication (ICT) Summit with Willie Obiano, the executive governor of the State as Special Guest of Honour.

Anambra State, blessed with tech titans, has made brave moves towards digitalization, as Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, former executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and Dr. Pius Okigbo (jr.) former president of ISPON, lead other speakers at the Summit.

The Summit organised by Oliswanen Group in collaboration with Akulueuno Foundation holds this week Thursday, October 27, 2017 at Best Western Meloch Hotel, Ifite, Awka, Anambra State.

“Anambra government is edging towards digitizing the entire state”, a statement credited to Governor Willie Obiano reads.

The set objectives, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek learnt, include,

“To signal the beginning of a digital revolution in the state;

“To position Anambra State as the main ICT hub in the South East;

“To provide the right vessel for Anambra IT firms based outside the state, to establish their presence in the state in harkening to the AkuLuo Uno;

“To establish IT enthusiasts of new trending technologies and create an avenue to network with IT professionals and experts;

“To bring ICT and allied companies to display their goods and services and avail also customers of discounted prices;

“To harness the IT potentials of youths in the state by bringing together all computer / IT-compliant in the state; from Secondary Schools, Tertiary Institutions, young graduates and exceptionally IT-gifted youths that are not in the educational system for a grant IT contest;

“To avail the government of new ICT solutions that will enhance their revenue management and administrative processes.

“An avenue for government to appreciate the enormous opportunities that IT offers and propound new ICT policies in the state”.

Confirmed business participants, electronic solution providers; gadgets and application developers; telecommunication companies; electronic/digital product manufacturers and retailers; mobile phone dealers and ICT services provides.

Other speakers expected at the Summit include: Mr. Gerald Ilukwe, Mr. Uche Nworah, Mr. Marcel Manafa, Mrs. Uchenna Onwuamaegbu, Mr. Pascal Okeke, Mr. Emeka Okeke, among others.

High profile ICT seminar; startup mentors and angel invectors; IT contest for secondary schools; digital and manual entertainment are part of programmes slated for the event.

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Operators Kick over Exclusion from National Broadband Council

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Key stakeholders in the country’s information and communications technology have been left out in the newly reconstituted Nigeria National Broadband Council.

 

A document of the new council obtained by Nigeria CommunicationsWeek contains list of members of the council.

 

The list, however did not have any telecommunications operator in the country or industry association such as Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON); Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) among others as members of the council.

 

This was as against the practice in the old council membership where telecommunications operators and representatives of ATCON, ALTON and others were members.

 

The present scenario raises doubt over the ability of the council to supervise effectively the implementation of the national broadband plan to achieve 30 percent broadband penetrative by 2018 without the people that will implement the policy.

 

Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, ALTON, said: “I am of the view that critical industry players should be members of the council otherwise it will be more of an advisory council than implementation council. The object of the council is to make things happen and it is operators that can make things happen, they are the ones that understand the challenges of the industry in terms of providing broadband services in the country.

 

Adebayo who was a member of the defunct Council said that “If operators were not carried along there is the tendency that the council will loss vital information in the process of writing report for the implementation of the broadband plan. We as operators will cooperate with them to ensure that the objectives of the plan are realized, but, the ideal practice would have been to involve operators as members of the council just like the old council,” he said.

 

National Broadband council sees to the implementation of National Broadband plan; the council plays a supervisory role in the implementation of the plan. Although, the council does not implement, implementations are done by operators, various ministries as well as Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

 

It is the job of the council to ensure that different time line as contained in the National Broadband Plan are achieved, where there is delay, the council invites the agency responsible to ensure that any obstacle responsible for the delay is removed.

 

Lanre Ajayi, immediate past president, ATCON who was a member of the old council representing ATCON, said that it is ideal and appropriate for operators playing in the deployment of broadband services to be represented in the council if the council wants to achieve its objective and functions effective.

 

“In absence of the operators that will implement the Broadband policy and industry associations expected to represent the views of its members, I wonder how the new National Broadband Council will function effectively, this means that they will not get the right input to perform their role,” he noted.

 

Members of the new council consist mainly of Communications ministry, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and representatives of some agencies under the ministry of Communications.

 

 

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USPF Shortlists 30 Innovations for Change-maker Challenge

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The Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), an arm of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says it has selected 30 innovations to further compete for its Change-maker Challenge 2017.

The USPF Changemaker Challenge 2017 is a nationwide competition open to innovators, software developers, UX designers, students and other ICT enthusiasts in Nigeria.

The objective of the challenge is to empower Nigerian youths by challenging them to create technology-driven solutions for the needs of their communities and the nation at large.

According to the fund, five entries each from the six geopolitical zones have pre-qualified for the National Finals of the USPF Change-maker Challenge 2017.

It posted on its website on Sunday that the submitted entries from each region were assessed based on certain criteria.

“The entries were assessed based on originality of the idea, level of innovation, local content, pitch quality and impact as well as documentation and video.

“Congratulations to the pre-qualified teams who have already been contacted by the USPF Change-maker Challenge 2017 Team, with invitations to the National Finals and instructions on next steps.

“For those that did not pre-qualify from their respective regions, we will like to encourage them to upgrade their solutions as well as continue to innovate.

“Truly, innovative solutions will invariably attract opportunities for investment, mentorship and eventual success,’’ it said.

It stated that the USPF National Finals will hold in Lagos from Oct. 27 to Oct. 28, 2017.

According to the fund, Nigerian youths are tasked through the competition to engage their ingenuity to solve relevant problems and bring positive change through creativity and innovation.

“The intention is to encourage participants to tackle a selection of identified problems based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as they apply to Nigeria, and offer working solutions to them.’’

It said that top three finalists would be selected by a panel of judges at the finals and would win N2, 250,000 cash prizes.

“The 1st prize winner will go with N1,000,000, the 2nd prize is N750,000 and the 3rd prize, N500,000; the winners will all get acceptance into incubation programme.

“The incubation programme will involve mentorship, a two-week entrepreneurship boot camp and support in attempting to get the three final solutions to market.’’ the fund said.

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