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Etisalat: Bello-Osagie Plots Comeback, ‘9Mobile’ A Transitory Name

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Mr. Hakeem Bello Osagie

The battle for the soul of Etisalat Nigeria (now rebranded 9Mobile) has reached a crescendo as Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations showed that Mr. Hakeem Bello-Osagie, former chairman, has launched out in search of investment partners to buy the mega shares in the company.

In May 2013, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited (EMTS), trading under the name of Etisalat Nigeria, signed a $1.2billion medium-term syndicated loan facility agreement with Zenith Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Limited and 10 other banks.

But, Mr. Osagie who resigned his position on the heat of threats from the banks to take over the Company for failure to pay back the loan, plans to regain his position should he get new investors.

A week ago, Hatem Dowidar, the chief executive of Etisalat International, said Etisalat Group would, in the next three weeks, phase out the brand name in Nigeria.

The decision followed Emirates Telecommunications Group (Etisalat Group) withdrawal of further involvement in the ownership of the Nigerian subsidiary.

Until June 15, the United Arab Emirates, UAE, group was a major shareholder in Etisalat Nigeria, along with United Arab Emirates Sovereign Wealth Fund through Mubadala Development Company, Abu Dhabi.

The two affiliates controlled a combined 85 per cent equity in the telecom firm, with Myacinth holding 15 per cent stake through Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services, EMTS Holding BV, owned by former United Bank for Africa, UBA, Mr Bello-Osagie.

Opting to part ways with the company followed the crisis in the wake of the $1.2billion syndicated loan the telecom firm took in 2013 from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks, an impeccable source revealed to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, Mr. Bello-Osagie has vowed to block moves by an influential ‘money bag’ without technical credentials to take over the company.

According to the Source, “Mr. Bello-Osagie, former chairman’s confidence of pulling a surprise comeback is based on the fact that the 13 banks are supposed to take over the mega shares in Etisalat, but they are not interested. They (the banks) are actually shopping for investors to buy over the shares. Presently, the shares are domicile with UBA Capital.

“So, Mr. Osagie is not giving up on the matter. First, his ‘group’ still maintains 15% stake in Etisalat. Remember, they are the owners of the operating licence too. Secondly, he is not comfortable with an influential business mogul who is making moves to take over Etisalat. The potential investor lacks the technical milieu to manage the Company.

“The man roadblock to him (the money bag) is that he possesses an expired operating license. The Communications Acts 2003 makes it impossible for him to buy over the shares. But he views the present circumstances as a golden opportunity to launch fully into the telecommunications business, especially with the potentials 9Mobile has. He might want to buy the Company through other business ventures. So, EMTS is on red alert”. 

The Source also told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that ‘9Mobile’ is merely a transitory name put forward by EMTS to beat the deadline as Etisalat International, has made intentions know to phase out the brand name in Nigeria by month end.

“Remember, at the launch of EMTS in Nigeria in 2008, “0809ja” was adopted, to affirm the “Nigerianness” of its origin. And it worked. The plan now is such that if EMTS succeeds in buying over the banks’ shares then the name 9Mobile, which is a transitory name, shall be dropped almost immediately. Should they fail to get investors of preference to buy the shares, it means EMTS will remain with 15% stake, but the new investors will come out with a new name. As it stands now, it stands 50-50 for Mr. Osagie to come back to his position”, the source said on Sunday night.

Recall, after the interventions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in the loan feud between Etisalat Nigeria and a consortium of 13 banks, Mr. Osagie, resigned his appointment as part of restructuring plan for the telecommunications firm.

The new board is headed by Dr. Joseph Nnanna, chairman; Mr. Boye Olusanya who replaced Matther Wilshire as CEO; Mr. Oluseyi Bickersteth, non- executive director; Mr. Ken Igbokwe, non-executive director and Mrs. Funke Ighodaro, Chief Finance Officer.

 

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Telecom

TCP: NCC Says Consumer Satisfaction, Robust Sector Top Priorities

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By Ugo Onwuaso

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is determined to carry out its regulatory functions to ensure that the companies operating in the industry were healthy.

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman of the Commission, made the remark during the 81st edition of the Telecoms Consumer Parliament (TCP) held in Lagos.

He added that “it has taken steps to ensure that the telecommunications sector remains vibrant”.

Mr. Sunday Dare, the executive commission, Stakeholders Management, NCC, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman, said that “the commission would carry out its regulatory functions to ensure that the companies operating in the industry were healthy”.

The Chairman said that the regulatory body had made interventions to prevent disruptions in the consumer’s experience.

According to him, “NCC has commenced aggressive enforcement of the Code of Corporate Governance to ensure that licensees in the industry continue to operate as viable businesses.

“The consumer deserves all the credits for the past and indeed the future successes of this industry.

“The Nigerian telecommunications consumers are at the centre stage of our regulation.

“We at the NCC, being consumer centric regulatory organisation have decided to celebrate consumers of the Nigerian telecommunications industry consistent with the eight point agenda that I set out when I assumed office in 2015.

The number two and six items of the agenda are the core drivers of the NCC year of telecommunications consumer initiative.

“While the number two item of the agenda addresses improved quality of service.

And item six is concerned with protection and empowerment of the telecommunications consumers,” he said.

He also stated that all NCC’s initiatives such as SIM card registration, Mobile Number Portability, Broadband policy implementation, development of 2442 and 622 short codes as well as various consumer awareness campaigns were to ensure consumer satisfaction and protection.

Danbatta added that the commission would continue to look out for and protect the interest of the consumer without compromising the interests of other stakeholders in the industry.

Mr Abdullahi Maikano, director, Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of NCC, said that over the years, TCP had proven to be an innovative way of bringing all stakeholders together to discuss and proffer solutions to industry issues.

Maikano said that the TCP had continued to occupy a pride of place in the commission’s activities.

He said that NCC would continue to provide significant resources to ensure that the parliament is held regularly for the benefit of consumers and the industry.

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Banks’ Working for Early Sale of 9Mobile — Fidelity Bank Boss

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Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, managing director of Fidelity Bank Plc, has said that all the banks whose money is trapped are working together for smooth sale of the telecoms on or before the end of the year.

This is as the 180 days’ window handed down to the receiver managers of 9Mobile draw nearer.

Explaining industry issues in a recent interactive session with select editors and publishers in Lagos, he said “As you are aware, the creditor banks came together to appoint a new Board and Management for the company, with the Deputy Governor of the CBN as chairman of the Board”.

“The company has good fundamentals with about 22 million subscribers, and it is also very strong in data. Our interest is to ensure the company remains a going concern so that it can attract interested buyers. The banks are working collectively on this,” Fidelity bank chief executive revealed.

It would recalled that at the heat of the $1.2bn syndicated loan default crisis which nearly grounded the former Etisalat, both the telecoms regulator and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), considered the volume of subscribers and intervened.

Part of the intervention was the appointment of Dr. Joseph Nnanna, former Deputy Governor of the CBN to head the chair the board and prepare it for potential investors between 90 to 180 days.

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Vodacom Urges Telcos to Adopt IoT for Increased ARPU

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L-R: Mr. Olusola Teniola, President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria; Mr. Lanre Kolade, Managing Director, Vodacom Business Nigeria; Dr. Fidelis Onah, Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Nigerian Communications Commission; and Mr. Chris Read, Conference Manager NigeriaCom 2017, at the just concluded NigeriaCom 2017 conference in Lagos

Lanre Kolade, Managing Director for Vodacom Business Nigeria, has urged telecommuncations operators in the country invest in Internet of Things services provision in order to increase their Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).

He stated this in a keynote speech at NigeriaCom 2017 organized by Informa Telecoms Group.

According to him ‘today, telecommunications operators are facing a period of flat growth for core services and significant decline in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). This drastic change threatens the survival of the telecoms industry, as substantial declines in user spending on voice and text services have caused a decline in telcos revenue. IoT has delivered a big growth opportunity for the industry due to the volume of connections expected and experts have projected the market will reach $14.6 trillion global market size by 2020.’

“It is therefore essential to seize the vast opportunities that this growth presents in transforming businesses,” he said.

Across all industries, IoT solutions have been adopted to provide a host of different benefits, from increased Return on Investment (ROI) to developing stronger relationships with customers’, with far reaching benefits projected for the future.

Lanre Kolade in his presentation calls on telecom operators to adapt to the changing times and source other revenue streams to replace what is being lost in the continuing revolution of communications.

“The Internet of Things offers significant growth potential and the opportunity to take a role in new vertical markets, such as automotive, healthcare and smart cities. As these sectors seek to adopt more IoT services, the opportunities that exist are vast. Whether you are a hardware manufacturer or connectivity reseller, adding IoT solutions to your portfolio will open up new revenue streams from selling hardware, software and connectivity services, to a broad range of value-added services, such as consulting, integration and support.  Telcos will have to look at the Internet of Things as a potential revenue generator to offset the declining revenues from core services” he said.

By 2020, more than seven billion people and businesses, and over 30 billion devices, will be connected to the internet.

The question is no longer about the adoption of IoT but rather its application to drive business success.
Vodacom’s IoT solutions support wireless payment devices and e-readers, energy usage and smart metering, chilling cabinets, remote asset monitoring systems and community health management solutions.

Vodacom recently partnered with Kaduna State Government to launch a mobile technology-based healthcare program, SMS for Life 2.0, in the state which aims to increase the availability of essential medication by monitoring drug stock levels and improving the delivery of healthcare for citizens who access public health services.

Vodacom is the technology partner for the initiative, which is a public-private partnership with Novartis and the Kaduna State Ministry of Health.

Vodacom has concluded the training and deployment of SMS for Life 2.0 in Kaduna, with over 250 facilities using the platform to date. This initiative is planned to be implemented in all thirty six states.

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