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Telecom Colonization Imminent – Daranijo

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Sinari Daranijo, Chief Executive Officer, Elcomserve Nigeria Limited

Sinari Daranijo, Chief Executive Officer, Elcomserve Nigeria Limited – a conglomerate of Security, Telecom and IT professionals.
He is a highly successful unique individual with immeasurable business acumen and has accumulated diverse business portfolios ranging from International Business, Oil & Gas, Business Development, Commerce & Industry, Training & Development, Information Technology, Strategic Management and Safety with over 18 years of relevant experience.
He spoke to Peter Ugwu on the company’s newly invented Nigeria’s first instant messaging/chat platform – Simply Beep and the state of the nation’s telecom industry. 

Elcomserve in Nigeria’s Telecom Business
We have a mix of professionals to provide great solutions for the development of the country and the people.
And one of our major target areas is to make things easier for people on the global scale by using the telecommunication platform.
When telecom was liberalised in Nigeria we actually started by providing infrastructure, equipment like radios, antenna, masts etcetera.
Everything is in stages. After they achieved that feat, the next step was to maintain the existing infrastructure, so that clients and customers can have value for their money and speak to themselves.
So that after acquiring huge voice subscriptions, the SMS promos, text-to-win were inspired, and now the next level is providing service for value added creation which has given rise to increase in the use of data.
For us at Elcomserve, we thought that now that the world is going digital everyone will end up in the internet, whether we like it or not.
So, we considered having a data plan that will be all encompassing, a gate into the world. We discovered that these days the spirit of chatting is beginning to encompass and engulf the entire world – it is easier to be on an IM platform than being on an SMS one.
We also discovered that while the whole world is going ahead, talk about android, iPod, Africa is lagging behind a bit because of high poverty level.
However, the chat experience is presently only available on that higher level, so we thought, ‘what can we do to bring it lower?’, hence we have created a product called Simply Beep.
It is supposed to help people who are using ordinary phones to tap into the experience of the upper-class users of smartphones.
It will open up a huge avenue into the entire system. But of course we have our challenges, even the people who work with the network operators do not completely understand because they are all following the world trend.
We have statistics: out of about 100 million subscribers on all the GSM networks in Nigeria, only about 3 million have BlackBerry and other smart phones.
We have about 97 million others who do not possess a BlackBerry or Smartphone.
For the most part, we have concentrated on those at the top.
 We need to connect with those on the other end of the divide. So, we decided to do something that will allow more people to have access to chat platform, people like students, artisans, house wives, etc, they are willing and ready to chat.
Beep is already available for download with the MTN network and we are concluding talks with all other mobile network providers in the country.
 
Beep and Local Lingua
The product has local lingual significance.
The reason why it is deployed in local lingua is to separate us from the crowd. And it will actually make the product proudly Nigerian.
Our local Pidgin-English is also something now respected and subscribed to in some parts of the world, owing to our music and movie industry.
Therefore, our move is to capture that segment of the society and endear them to the product. The emoticons such as “Laugh wan kill me die”, “I beg wait” and “I dey vex,” are some of the unique features of Simply Beep.

Challenges
Although there are other competing brands in the market – they have higher-end products – not necessarily mass friendly and not directly pushed to the people.
The reason why it’s taking some time for us to leverage on our own product is because we are stepping into a market with a new experience, and by pulling these people into a new experience it now means that we need to throw the product directly to their phones, unlike those other competitors that subscribers have to download from the internet.
That is our strategy, but it was tough pushing the networks to understand what we are talking about, because all they can see is the upper class people.
We had to make them see that Nigerians are highly motivated people.

Economic Values
Now, when you look at it from the point of economic value, the social media is a very big platform.
Increasing the dissemination of information, helps two or more people engage in interaction, increases communal feelings, etc.
So, all the advantages of social media are what we are bringing to the fore, especially for those who won’t otherwise use data services.
Our underlying philosophy however, is: own something. We don’t create, own or produce anything as Africans.
Over 50 per cent of what we wear on our bodies is foreign made. And that is why we shall continue to have local content problems.
Shoprite is here and you are all excited, it is not your money! If you go there to shop, they take the money and develop their own countries.
Why can’t we build our own platforms? This is the age of social platform. And I am building this platform in pain, because banks don’t support me. Even the networks, it was a battle to make them buy into this.
And that is the story of Nigeria, even the government does not understand.
But we need to build platforms that are ours. It will checkmate capital flight, because presently, when N10 is plugged into Nigeria’s economy, N5 out of it leaves the country.

Nigeria in Telecom Market
The world telecommunication market is expanding.
The data accompanying all products pushed to Africa are being kept by foreign companies. The problem with Nigerians is that we are not creators; we would want to leverage on what everybody brings to us.
We can do something even better; something we can call our own.
If Nigeria can boast of a chat platform we hold as ours, rather than depend on outsiders, then it is the beginning of great things to come in the Nigerian telecommunications market.

Infrastructure
That is where the global village phenomenon comes in, because we are still battling with electricity and all that, what we have done is to partner RackSpace that hosts servers for many other companies in the world.
RackSpace keeps all our chats and everything.
There is a room in the cloud that is dedicated to us. Reason why we have gone to that level is to ensure we do not tell our subscribers stories.
The problem we are having with the network operators is their inability to see that this project is important for the nation, because local content is not always the best for the expatriate companies.
It’s just the way the oil companies operate; we need a lion-hearted Minister who will put it on the expatriate companies to align themselves with the domestic inventors.
Do we have government functionaries who understand what mobile application developers go through?

Human Resources
We need to have telecom people in government; those who understand the nitty-gritty of the business so as to harness the potentials.
Your software is nothing until it goes out to the public. Nigeria must do everything within our powers to run away from impending telecom colonization.
It is a serious issue; there is no sector that the foreigners are not dominating.
We need to have Nigerians hold some gates in the sector. They know it, but there is not enough passion to drive it.
We have the best of policies in place, but the implementation is the problem. You remember when the telecom market was initially liberalised, NITEL had 400,000 lines and owned all infrastructure associated with the industry.
The new private operators were begging NITEL (for infrastructure sharing), but now they have all built their own infrastructures and its NITEL through the government begging them (for accommodation).
So, the bigger you are, the less stress, because you don’t have to talk to anybody.    
  
Government’s Involvement  
The connection between government and the realities ends in speeches. We need to have people who feel the pain to make things happen.
We need the government and the industry to understand each other by communicating on a regular basis, so we can deliver a resultant technological effect to the people at the grassroots.     

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Polaris Bank, Former Skye Bank Dead on Arrival- Analysts

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The withdrawal of the operating license of Skye Bank Plc by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) late September 2018 has continued to generate reactions from experts, analysts and observers.

 

Business Post reported that when the apex bank collapsed Skye Bank, it announced a bridge bank called Polaris Bank, retaining the management it appointed for the defunct lender in 2016 because it was impressed with their performance.

 

But some people who have chewed on the statement of the Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, on the establishment of the bridge bank, have described Polaris Bank “dead on arrival”.

 

According to Mr Emefiele, the license of Skye Bank Plc was withdrawn after noticing that despite its intervention for two years, the financial institution was still visiting the Standing Lending Facility (SLF), a window which allow banks to borrow from the CBN, as a result of liquidity challenges.

 

To avoid the monies of depositor going down the drain and because the bank was one of the Systemically Important Bank (SIB), the CBN decided to shut down the financial institution and name a new one using its structures, staffs and resources of Skye Bank Plc.

 

Mr Emefiele was quoted on Friday, September 21, saying that ‘the existing Board, Management and Staff of the defunct Skye Bank has been retained for its good performance’.  According to him, Skye Bank Plc’s performance has improved considerably compared to the pre-July 2016 era.

 

However, there have been questions as to why the apex bank would revoke license of a bank with a performing management. It was understandable when the Mr Tunde Ayeni-led board was sacked by the central bank because the bank found itself in a non-performing loan mess estimated to be almost N700 billion.

 

The criss-cross in the statement of the CBN has thus seen questions being asked with no one ready to answer them.

 

There are some who said if the interim management set up by the CBN to manage Skye Bank for two years could not prevent its eventual fall, why keep the team to run the bridge bank.

 

Also, there are those who insist that there is more to the whole development, as they keep asking if the bank would have been put to rest if it was really doing well. There are also those who believe that the hands of the CBN Governor Emefiele might be tied, hence he is maintaining the set of management and board.

skye bank.jpg

Whatever is the situation, one basic truth is that Polaris Bank in the hands of the same management that couldn’t salvage Skye Bank Plc is only poised to fail except of course if the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) can quickly find a buyer before the invested N786 billion is known.

 

Explaining the consequences of the move by the apex bank, Tunde Biobaku, financial analyst said “when a bank is recapitalized, there is always the need to name a new board who will handle the new investment. If you use the same set of people, they will run down the business just like they initially did to make the bank need recapitalization in the first place, so what the CBN has done is very confusing because the same guys that couldn’t do well with Skye Bank are now managing Polaris Bank, the end result is already clear, crystal clear. They would leave Polaris Bank worse than they met it, you mark my words.”

 

Boniface Okezie, national coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), said the CBN need to explain its actions to Nigerians for better understanding.

 

Okezie said the investors should not be allowed to suffer again for the misdeeds and mistakes of the regulations. He called on the Federal Government to investigate the incessant fall of banks in the country, adding that the past management and board of Skye Bank must be made to account of what led to the the bank’s misfortune.

 

Signs that the apex bank would move in to takeover the bank became obvious when it failed to declare its result under the mandatory window. The announcement of the takeover by CBN came like a surprise to many.

 

With the same old wine in a new bottle, it is hard to see a flourishing Polaris Bank in the near future, especially in the hands of Tokunbo Abiru, leader of the team.

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BHM Unveils Third Edition of Nigeria PR Report

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Black House Media (BHM) a Global communications and public relations organization has unveiled important findings on the Nigerian PR industry in its newly released 2018 PR Report.

Now in its third year, the Report, which contains insights across key areas in the Nigeria PR industry, is compiled by BHM’s research arm – BHM Research & Intelligence (BRI) in collaboration with Brentt Consulting, a leading market research organisation, and Africa’s first Content Trading Marketplace, Plaqad Incorporated.

The Nigeria PR Report includes comprehensive data analysis on subject matters such as size of agency, years of operation, annual PR revenue, annual PR spend, agency client portfolio, top sectors serviced, skills for entry into the industry, state of the Nigeria PR industry and perspectives of the industry according to various industry professionals. It also features the code of ethics of the Nigerian Public relations industry.

This edition of the report reveals useful information, while offering a strategic approach to put Nigeria on the global PR map by encouraging the documentation of reliable data and insights about the industry.

According to Lola Talabi Oni, Managing Director, Brentt Consulting, “There is the need to document the growth and development of the Nigerian PR industry using data and insights from practitioners.

“We’ve noted that there is a gap in the marketplace that only the provision of data like those compiled in the Nigeria PR report can bridge.”

Ayeni Adekunle, Founder and CEO of BHM, Speaking on the release of 2018 Nigeria PR Report, noted that, “Nigeria PR Report brings something we desperately need to save our businesses: Data.

“We need to know what’s happened, what’s happening, how it happened, why it happened.

“This information will enable us make informed decisions around our individual businesses and the industry in general.”

Nigeria PR Report is the country’s first-ever annual report on Public Relations, dedicated to gathering, chronicling and analyzing data on trends, perceptions, challenges and prospects within the industry.

 

 

 

 

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Skye Bank Dead, Polaris Bank Takes Over

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has revoked the operating licence of Skye Bank Plc with immediate effect.

Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank, disclosed this during a press briefing in Lagos on Friday.

He said that Skye Bank would now be taken over by Polaris Bank, which would take over all the assets and liabilities of the defunct entity.

The bridge bank will inject N786bn to recapitalise the bank and return it to stability and profitability before selling to interested investors.

The management of the defunct bank was however retained for its good performance.

The defunct Skye Bank has been on CBN’s lifeline since July 2016 and the apex bank says it can no longer continue to intervene to keep the balance liquid.

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