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What If Tsunami Buhari ‘Swallows’ Shittu

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Mr. Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications

Our Christian brethren are ‘merrying’, and in a few days time, year 2016 and its attendant brouhaha will wind down, giving way for fresh impetuses, aspirations and gazes on new horizons. As expected, there will be hang/hand over between the outgoing year and 2017.

However, I am particular about having a more enthused and verile Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry that is not resting on its past glories.

Among many expectations, it seems President Muhammadu Buhari will align with supposed popular thinking that his cabinet should be reshuffled. That is where I beg we cull the subject of today’s piece.

Vanguard Newspaper on Monday, December 19, 2016 on its Facebook wall conducted a brief survey, asking Nigerians to list ten Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria they believe should lose their seats should Mr. President decide to reshuffle his cabinet in the coming year. Going through the posts our industry’s, (Information) Communications (Technology) Minister, Barrister Adebayo Shittu appears to be ‘in safe’ hands as his name was missing. But, what if PMB’s ‘Broom-Tsunami’ still sweeps away the Minister, who recently fought some witty battles such as struggling to push the idea that the proposed communications tax is one of the best strategies to overcoming the present economic realities – a point of view many Nigerians including yours truly have refused to buy. So, what if the President decides to relieve Shittu of his post or move him to another ministry, how should the industry then proceed?

Obviously, something is still lacking in our polity- where a successor finds it difficult to build on the foundation developed by the predecessor. In other words, whoever takes over the mantle would start ‘all-over’, searching for stakeholders to submit documents and help in drafting ‘new policies; by then Shittu’s ‘brilliant’ ideas and policy thrust would have been archived and not really/fully gazette(d) like that of his predecessor Dr. Omobola Johnson, the erstwhile Minister of Communications Technology.

The losers are not the politicians who find it not too odd to stir controversies that will rattle new ‘office’ occupants. By then, they stay aloof, enjoying their ‘game’. Therefore, the losers are the organized private sector who need to rewind the rat-race of paying homage, redrafting memos with attached costs; all to please a new chip off of the old block’.

But, even when the new appointee genuinely seeks for advice, he ends up harvesting half-baked and gibberish contents that compound issues or standing the truth on the head.

Nevertheless, Barrister Shittu might still survive the cabinet reshuffle, thereby retaining his post. Whatever happens we still need to talk about the various issues affecting the industry. There are a lot of things happening in the industry that require stakeholders to converge at a round table with policy makers in search of solutions. First the telecommunications companies are bleeding. How they performed the magic of ensuring the Christmas season wasn’t marred by poor quality of service (QoS) calls for commendation.

Apparently, the operators are not expanding, at least, not at the expected speed, particularly since the time dollar scarcity hit the economy. If airlines, banks, manufacturing and agricultural sectors are receiving Government’s special attention, I think the IT & telecoms industry deserves that or at the very least have good policies to stimulate and protect this all-important industry. It is a big business enabler; providing required blood that flow in the veins of almost every other sector.

My guest on this week’s edition of Tech Trends on Channels Television is the GMD of IPNX, Ejovi Aror, and I asked him a few questions about the industry in general and found some of his responses quite intriguing. For him, the industry still needs a lot of investments to grow, espcially to effectively advance in the area of 4G LTE but the required investments won’t come, if there is uncertainty in the economy. One take away from my chat with him is that the industry has a lot of potentials but also has serious challenges. This is why I am of the opinion that players and enthusiasts must keep brainstorming on the way forward. You may see the full interview by visiting http://www.CFA.ng/tv

On the flip side, it was recently reported that about 80% of the Value Added Service (VAS) licencees operating today are near extinction. The culprits are the telcos who have not been able to fulfil their obligations to these service providers. So, should we fold our hands and allow these companies collapse; a situation that will warrant FDIs and jobs losses? Why are the telcos not servicing their creditors, in this case, the VAS operators?

Now you see my point, there is certainly a lot to talk about, this is why ‘Think Breakfast Series (tBs)’ has been established and it comes up on 25th of January, 2017 by 8am at the Prime Chinese Restaurant, Plot 860 Bishop Aboyade Cole Street Victoria Island, Lagos.

tBs is a strategic initiative put together by Nigeria CommunicationsWeek and CFAtech.ng which is aimed at bringing industry experts together to brainstorm and discuss the biggest trends and issues impacting the industry. The organisers believe that Nigeria has a plethora of challenges that must be solved if she must be a great nation indeed and tBS would serve as a platform to assist Nigeria in achieving the greatness it deserves within the comity of nations.

The tBs is a gathering of 30 passionate executives, decision makers and thought leaders who have the capacity to proffer solutions to issues affecting their industry and Nigeria through a brainstorming session done over breakfast.

This event is strictly by invitation because quality participation and deliberations are compulsory, so if you are a top executive and would like to to join other key decisions makers in the first series of tBs, register @ http://tbs.com.ng/tbs-registration/ and also contact us if you would like to partner the tBs team.

tBS will no doubt be a gathering of great minds with solutions that can transform the country. Barr. Shittu and his team need experts’ ideas to succeed & tBs is another credible platform to express ourselves as it concerns the growth of telecoms & IT industries in Nigeria. See you at tBs!

CFA is the Founder, www.CFAtech.ng & Co-producer/Presenter, Tech Trends on Channels Television

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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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