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Etisalat Nigeria Changes Name to 9Mobile

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Etisalat-logo.jpg

Etisalat Nigeria, the mobile cellular network has dropped the trade name and would henceforth be known as 9Mobile.

Though there is no official confirmation yet from the new managers of the embattled telco;  9Mobile is also expected to drop the domain name, www. etisalat. com.ng, following the ultimatum handed the Nigerian firm by Abu Dhabi based Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) also known as Etisalat.

The Abu Dhabi telco terminated its management agreement with its Nigerian arm and gave it the business time of three weeks to phase out the brand in Nigeria.

Etisalat Nigeria is trade name with which Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. (EMTS) operated before they were sacked.

Recall the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had intervened to save Etisalat Nigeria from collapse after talks with its lenders to renegotiate a $1.2 billion loan failed.

Hatem Dowidar, chief executive of Etisalat International told Reuters had said that, the company has given few weeks to operators of the brand to phase out Etisalat in Nigeria

The Chief Executive said the company, with a 45 percent stake in the Nigerian business, is transferring its shares to a trustee after talks to renegotiate a $1.2 billion loan failed.

Dowidar said all UAE shareholders of Etisalat Nigeria, including state-owned investment fund Mubadala, had exited the company and left the board and management.

He said discussions were ongoing with Etisalat Nigeria to provide technical support, adding that it could continue to use the brand for another three weeks before phasing it out.

“There’s a new board and we are not part of that company. We have sent our termination letter for the management agreement,” he said.

Etisalat Nigeria took out the loan with 13 local lenders in 2013 to refinance an existing loan and fund expansion but struggled to repay four years later.

When asked if the company will return to the country anytime soon, Dowidar said “the train has left the station on that one. Being in that market as an investor … are we willing to risk more money compared to the reward for the long-term?”

“Etisalat is among the top two in markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt and Afghanistan,” he said.

“(Nigerian) lenders may try to continue to operate the company until they find a buyer (or) they may merge the company with the existing players in Nigeria.

“The brand agreement in either of these two scenarios won’t be a long-term thing, so we take out the brand; in the long term Etisalat won’t be in Nigeria.”

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Angry Reps Threaten to Arrest Bello-Osagie, Airtel Boss

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Hakeem Bello-Osagie, chairman of the defunct Etisalat Nigeria

Segun Ogunsanya, chief executive officer & managing director, Airtel Nigeria

House of Representatives adhoc committee investigating the operational activities of telecoms operators panel Thursday threatened to issue an arrest warrant against Hakeem Bello-Osagie, chairman of the defunct Etisalat Nigeria, as well as Segun Ogunsanya, chief executive officer & managing director, Airtel Nigeria for shunning the panel’s summons.

 

According to the Hon. Ahmed Abu- headed committee, Bello-Osagie and the Airtel CEO refused to honour the invitations by the panel to answer questions on alleged tax evasion by Airtel and former Etisalat

 

Abu while speaking at the National Assembly during a public hearing Thursday described the behaviour of the two men as unacceptable adding that an arrest warrant would be issued against them should they fail to appear on the next invitation.

 

His words: “It’s important that your MD is here. Public interest overrides any other interest. We don’t want anybody to play this card to say people will lose their jobs. Nigerian workers are ultimate.

 

“It’s only in Nigeria where what happened in the transition between Etisalat and 9Mobile will happen. We looked into the books, and the balances are annoying. You must bring Bello-Osagie here, else we’ll issue arrest warrant against him.

 

He said while speaking on the Airtel CEO:  “when next we do a letter to the CEO of Airtel and he doesn’t turn up, we’ll issue an arrest warrant against him.”

 

However, because he was in a meeting at the Presidential villa, the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler could not appear before the lawmakers hence the spect of 5 percent Value Added Tax  charges on sales of recharge cards could not be treated.

 

Meanwhile, another ad-hoc panel of the House which is probing the various intervention funds by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has summoned the Managing Director of the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Kuru.

 

At the same committee hearing, the Director General of the Nigeria Lottery Commission, Lanre Gbajabiamila said that while approximately 295 licensed Value-added Service (VAS) providers have generated about N80 billion revenues across the four operators within the past 4 years , MTN alone is grossing about 50 percent of the entire revenue

 

He said it is therefore evident that there is need for the revenue sharing formula between Mobile Network Operators and Value-added Service (VAS)/Digtal content and  Mobile- based lottery providers be reviewed upwards in favour of the VAS providers.

 

Gbajabiamila, said the sharing formulae should now be 60- 40 in favour of the VAS providers.

 

“VAS partners are largely responsible for running lottery/promo services in behalf of the operators. As these initiatives are very resource consuming, it is important that any partner looking to engage in it is well prepared in terms of funding and planning of their expectations and returns.

 

” The resources and creativity the continues to be applied to VAS and digital content generation are the key components to the success of the industries..

 

“Over the years, collaborations between MNOs and the VAS partners have seen revenue share continue to take a fall from 60 to 30 percent on the average, to as low as 15 percent to VAS providers in some cases.”

 

He said previously, VAS partners who held licenses from the Lottery Regulatory Commission were guided by certain sets of provisional rules which are easily applied according to the type and scale of promo offering being proposed..

 

But that the guideline seems to be varying in ways that VAS partners are struggling to comply with. “And this is the basis of the presentation of our position to this honorable assembly.”

 

Gbajabiamila said the current lottery ACT 2005 seems to address mostly main stream lottery services, usually based in ticket sales and returns.

 

While citing, sections 20, 24, 35 and 57 of the Act he said a minimum of 50 percent of the proceeds of the National Lottery is to be paid to a prize fund, which is dedicated to the payment of prizes.

 

He however said that approximately 295 licensed VAS providers have generated about N80 billion revenues across the four operators within the past 4 years “of which MTN is grossing about 50 percent of the entire revenue.”

 

Members of the committee agreed that there is need to upgrade the share of the VAS providers adding that the Mobile Network Operators are obviously not treating the VAS providers fairly.

 

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Bharti Airtel, Tigo Merge to form AirtelTigo

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Bharti Airtel has merged with Millicom’s Tigo in Ghana to become the country’s second largest mobile operator, the new company AirtelTigo said yesterday.

The merger, the first of its kind in Ghana, is a bid to increase share in the West African country where mobile phone use is one of the highest in Africa and competition for 37.4 million mobile phone users is fierce.

South Africa’s MTN dominates with 47.5 percent of subscribers. Others include Britain’s Vodafone, Globacom of Nigeria and Sudan’s Sudatel Expresso.

The National Communications Authority regulator granted conditional approval for the merger in September, following an agreement in March by the two companies to combine their operations. .

AirtelTigo will serve around 10 million subscribers with revenues close to $300 million, it said in a statement.

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Yola Hosts USPF North East Zonal Stakeholder Workshop on ICT Utilisation and Sustainability

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The Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) secretariat, recently held the North East Zonal stakeholder engagement workshop in Yola

 

Universal Service Provision Fund a department of NCC created under the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 to support the provision of ICT services in un-served and under-served areas of Nigeria.

 

The USPF in keeping with the reigning paradigm of development and sustainability, particularly the importance of an all-inclusive engagement and collaborative partnership, convened the workshop to enable all stakeholders to discuss and evolve ways of ensuring the growth and sustainability of Community Resource Centres (CRCs), School Knowledge Centres and other similar projects and programmes facilitated by the Fund.

 

The Secretariat is convinced that it is through appropriate utilisation of these projects in a sustainable manner that will bolster the economy of the beneficiaries and communties, and accelerate social development especially in terms of qualitative and equitable education; effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare systems; improved access to markets and information for the small-scale farmers; and for neighbourhood crisis and disaster prevention and management.

 

Participants at the workshop were government officials, community leaders, development enthusiasts and journalists.

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