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Celtel to Zain, Unification Rebranding



The recent rebranding of Celtel Nigeria to Zain may be viewed by many as one too many having changed name about four times. The company began operation as operator of Global System of Mobile communication in 2002 as Econet thereafter changed its brand name to Vodacom when Vodacom bought into then Econet. This was short lived as Vodacom pulled out of the acquisition contractual agreement thereby living the company in the hands of Nigerian investors that are not financially strong to provide the required finance to compete with the likes of MTN and Glo. As an interim arrangement, the company hurriedly changed its name to Vmobile while sorting for core investor. Vee networks the company incorporated name entered into acquisition talk with Celtel Africa the African operation of then MTC the parent company of Celtel Africa. The outcome of the talk was acquisition of majority stake in Vee Networks resulting in the rebranding of Vmobile to Celtel.

Celtel International was not originally owned by MTC group, it acquired 85% of equity in the then leader is cellular operation in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005. Under the terms of the agreement, MTC acquired 85% of the issued equity with commitment to purchase the remaining 15% of the shares in two years, which happened last year making the whole deal worth $3.4 billion.

MTC’s acquisition of Celtel has helped it achieved a big part of its ambitious vision of becoming a global cellular operator, opened up many promising markets and secured leadership for MTC in sub-Sahara telecom market.

“MTC has built on Celtel’s expertise in sub-Sahara markets to continue its expansion plan in emerging Africa market,” said Dr. Sa’ad Al-Barrak, chief executive officer MTC group.

It is pertinent to note that, the underlining cause of these rebranding to Celtel was as a result of change of ownership, which distinguished the recent rebranding from Celtel to Zain. The recent rebranding is precipitated by the desire of the parent company then MTC of Kuwait to change its name to Zain in September 2007; this led to Middle East operations of the company changing its name to Zain while African operations still retained Celtel.

Owners of the telecommunication giant felt that there is need to unify its brand required for harmonious operation, and good quality of service that led to rebranding of all Zain operations in Africa to Zain which as well affected its Nigeria operation.

To some industry watches the rebranding of Celtel to Zain is a good opportunity for the company to change the battered image of GSM operators, if it will match it with actions by improving on its quality of service.

Presently, GSM operators are facing with quality of service issues where many are expecting that the new entrant Etisalat will do the magic by offering them better quality of service. The rebranding and trading with a new name will make most uninformed people to believe that it is a new GSM operator. For instance, this writer had an encounter with some people who were in a hot argument about the emergence of another GSM operator with the name Zain, they are five in number three are arguing that Zain is a new GSM operator that president Yar’adua brought from Arab country to change the face of GSM that is saddle with poor quality of service while the other two more informed, argued in the opposite that it is Celtel that has changed its name to Zain. It took this write a lot of explanation to convince these three gentle men that it is their own Celtel Nigeria that is now Zain Nigeria. This could give the company a good face in view of the public perception about GSM operators in the country.

To mark the launch of its new colourful identity across Africa, Zain also announced the creation of the world’s first cross-continental borderless network, extending and linking its ‘One Network’ service between Africa and the Middle East. The service will be available to 500 million people stretching from the west coast of Africa to the Middle East, covering an area larger than the United States of America. One Network allows Zain customers affordable cross-border communications, helping friends and families stay connected.

According to Al-Barrak, ‘this truly is a defining moment in the history of global telecommunications. The connecting of One Network across two continents demonstrates how under one brand, Zain is able to offer enhanced mobile telephony services. Going forward it will now be easier and more affordable for people to keep in touch and support cross-continent trade and enterprise. This is the essence of the Zain brand promise to create ‘A wonderful world’.

This allows all Zain customers (pre-paid and post-paid) in Africa and the Middle East using ‘One Network’ to enjoy the benefits of being treated as a ‘local’ customer wherever they are. Customers can make calls and send messages at local rates when communicating with a travelling Zain customer who will receive incoming calls free-of-charge and be able to make calls back home at local rates. Pre-paid customers can also top up their phones with recharge cards bought from either their home country or more than one million outlets available in one of the 15 One Network countries. The One Network service is automatically activated upon crossing the geographical border into one of the countries, with no prior registration required or sign-up fee.

Zain is a leading emerging markets player in the field of telecommunications aiming to become one of the top ten mobile groups in the world by 2011.

 Zain was established in 1983 in Kuwait as the region’s first mobile operator and was known as MTC until September 2007. From modest beginnings in Kuwait, the company now has more than 16,000 employees serving over 50 million customers in 15 African and seven Middle Eastern countries including Ghana and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the company will launch its mobile telecommunications networks in the coming months.

Since 2003, it has grown significantly becoming the 4th largest telecommunications company in the world in terms of geographic presence with a footprint in 22 countries spread across the Middle East and Africa.

In Africa, Zain now operates in 15 sub-Saharan African countries namely: Ghana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo. Others are Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The company’s mobile telecommunications operations in Ghana will begin this year.

In the Middle East, Zain operates in: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Sudan and soon the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In Lebanon the company manages the network on behalf of the Lebanese government and operates as MTC-touch.

Zain is renowned for its pioneering role in bringing technical innovations and modern telecommunication services to the markets it serves. For instance, the launch of its ‘One Network’ service in September 2006 offering Zain customers’ affordable and effective cross-border communications was a world first. Zain also launched the world’s first nationwide 3G and WiMAX network in Bahrain. The company plans to role out modern technologies to its African and Middle East operations where the need and demand arises.

It promised to continue to pioneer ‘One Network’, the world’s first borderless network, which has already broken new ground as it is now available for the first time across two continents – Africa and the Middle East.

Corporate Social Responsibility continues to be high on Zain’s agenda, given its historic role in supporting the communities it serves. Zain is committed to helping to open up an exciting world of new possibilities and opportunities, in culture, health and education, and acting responsibly in the communities where it operates. Zain has pioneered a range of education-based initiatives across Africa and is partnering with governments and communities to help them achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. For example, in the last one year, Zain has donated millions of dollars worth of books and educational supplies to government-owned schools in Africa. The company recently partnered international establishments in bringing telephony to 400,000 people in remote areas of Africa and has many community projects across both continents.

The Zain brand is wholly owned by Mobile Telecommunications Company KSC, which is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (Stock ticker: ZAIN). The company had a market capitalization of US$ 25 billion on 30 June 2008. Financial results for H1 2008 are available on




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NCC to Order Telcos to Refund Illegal Deductions from Subscribers



Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said it may soon order telecommunication operators to refund illegal deductions from subscribers.


Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, EVC, NC, said the illegal deductions were made in five months.


He said 58,965,478 total Active Broadband Subscription on 3G and 4G platforms was recorded as at November 2018.


Danbatta explained that Internet subscription grew from 107,547,723 in October 2018, to 108,897,679 in November 2018, while Active Voice Subscriber base grew from 165,239,443 in October 2018 to 169,104,830 in November 2018.


The commission also disclosed that Nigeria has exceeded 30 per cent broadband penetration target, as it the record stood at 30.9 per cent in November 2018.


Danbatta who was represented by Sunday Dare, executive commissioner, Stakeholders Management, said Nigeria would achieve close to 50 per cent broadband penetration by 2019.


According to him, contributions of Telecommunications and Information Services to GDP from Q1 to Q3 2018 were N4.7 trillion, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).


In the last quarter (Q3, 2018), the amount stood at N1.5 trillion, according to Q3 figures reported by the NBS.


Danbatta said that Telecommunications and Information Services Sector grew by 14.7 per cent from Q1, 2017 to Q3, 2018.


The NCC has also promised to reduce call masking across the nation by 80 per cent before 2020, noting that about N6 billion is lost yearly to call masking


The executive vice chairman disclosed that tracking technology has made the commission to reduce call masking by 21per cent as at August 2018, even as nine offenders have been arrested.


He said the commission had in the last six months, took proactive measures through investigation and efforts to reduce incidents of SIM boxing in the country by 32 per cent.


According to Dambatta, call masking/refilling occurs when an international call is terminated in Nigeria as a local number.


He stressed that perpetrators have ulterior motive of profiting from price differentials between international and local calls termination rates.


He added that a SIM box has the capacity to receive and transmit calls undetected.


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Broadband: Danbatta Reaffirms Commitment to Infrastructure for last-mile connectivity



L-R: Aremu olajide, chairman, Technical Committee, Reprsentating ALTON Chairman, Mr Emma Okonji, Chairman, Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) and Dr. Henry Nkemadu, Deputy Director./ Head, Special Intervention Projects, NCC at the 4th Quarter Seminar/Induction Ceremony of the Nigerian Information Technology Reporter's Association (NITRA) held in Lagos

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission on Friday reemphasized the commissions’ commitment in ensuring the provision of broadband infrastructure across the country to achieve last-mile connectivity.


He stated this at the 4th Quarter Seminar/Induction Ceremony of the Nigerian Information Technology Reporter’s Association (NITRA) held in Lagos.


The theme of the events was: ‘Achieving Last-Mile Connectivity through Affordable Broadband’.


Danbatta, who was represented by Dr. Henry Nkemadu, Deputy Director./ Head, Special Intervention Projects, NCC noted that Nigerian Communications Commission will ensure the provision of broadband infrastructure across the country to achieve last-mile connectivity.


He added that Communications Sector is a catalyst that would provide the needed infrastructure that will enable other sectors of Business, Education, Health, Agriculture, Governance, Finance to thrive.


According to him, “the Communications Sector provides the infrastructure to enable other infrastructures in the different sectors of Business, Education, Health, Agriculture, Governance, Finance and so on.


“The importance of this sector has continued to enhance human capabilities such as healthy life, knowledge, creativity, collaboration, innovation, self-organization and participation in the social, economic and political life of the country as well as impact on economic growth through productivity gains.”


He also revealed that the commission’s activities have impacted on efficient improvements in service delivery that enable national development.


Danbatta explained that telecommunication acts as an enabler to drive socio-economic growth, developments and modernization across all sectors of the economy.

He added that robust and reliable telecoms service lies on adequate broadband infrastructure which will provide the needed impetus to achieve last mile connectivity.


He further stated that the Commission has made plans for massive deployment of 5G infrastructure in the country.


He said, “At the Stakeholders Consultative Forum on 5G Readiness and High Altitude Platform Station Technologies in Abuja recently, the Commission announced its plans for massive deployment of infrastructure for the new technology.


“5G has the potential to be transformational for communities in Nigeria because of the set high requirements for 5G networks: fast, ubiquitously available services provided by infrastructure deployed across all regions.


“The 5G technology has significantly faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices.”


Mr Emma Okonji, Chairman, Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) while delivering it opening speech said that broadband infrastructure is an enabler for economic and social growth in a digital economy.


He commended the 15 member committee inaugurated by former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to draw up national broadband strategy for a work well done.


He further commended NCC for achieving the 30 percent broadband penetration target that was set from 2013 to 2018.


Okonji extolled Danbatta’s passion for broadband development in the country, adding that it has further deepened broadband penetration and grew it to the 30.9 percent that we currently achieved.


Engr Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) decried the hostile business environment in the country, noting that it’s the reason why CDMA Company’s died.


He therefore called on the media to help in sustaining the environment by ensuring accurate reportage of the sector.


Adebayo, who was represented by Engr Aremu Olajide, chairman, Technical Committee, appealed on the media to always research on some of the laws being implemented by the state governments and ask questions on the areas of irregularities, citing the tax disputes between the Kogi government and mobile network operators as an example.


He condemned the multiple taxation Telco operators are being subjected to in the industry.


He further called on the support of the association in sustaining the industry through effective reportage.


Also speaking at the event, Dr. Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director of Rack Centre, said that cloud technology will transform Nigeria and Africa if we deploy it in sachet format.


He added that Nigeria run what he called a sachet economy, where we buy things in sachet form, stressing that deploying cloud in sachet format will ensure that it gets to the citizenry easy and faster.








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NCC Says Nigeria Loses $60Bn Annually to Call Masking



The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said the Nigerian telecom industry loses about $60 billion dollars annually to call masking. Call masking is a process where international calls are terminated as local calls.

This NCC said has posed serious threat to the telecom industry but noted that the Commission has proffered solution to the problem.

Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, dropped the hint on Thursday at the 86th Edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP), entitled: “Overcoming Challenges of Call Masking/Refiling: Task Ahead for the Telecom Industry, on Thursday in Abuja.

Danbatta, who spoke through the Executive Commissioner Stakeholders management, Sunday Dare, noted that globally $54-$60 is lost to call masking but added that the Commission is taking proactive measures to curb the menace.

He said: “We don’t have the exact figures for Nigeria but globally $54-$60 is lost to call masking. This shows that it is a global menace which is not specific to Nigeria and it is possible because of innovative technology that is available.

“We talk about the VIOP which is Voice Over Internet Protocol, we talk about the OTT; Over The Top platforms where you do WhatsApp and all other video calls. These are innovations and technologies that allows for some of this to happen.”

“But we are happy to say for the last eight months, the NCC took very proactive measures, through investigations, we worked with our taskforce to have been able to reduce the incidence of sim boxing in this country by 34%.

“When you look at the roadmap so far, 2016, it started, in 2017, we started investigations. We moved from reducing it to 24% to 34%. I think the most critical point is; we have tried to look for a technological solution to solve what is a slight technical problem.

” As I speak, we have found a solution after the prove of concept. That solution has been tried in Lagos South West and about nine people have been arrested in the basement of a house and a few cars in which you have the boxes in their booths.

“We have tried that concept, it is working and we hope to launch it in January. If it is launched in January; I can assure Nigerians that before the end of 2019, we would have had 80% reduction in call masking,” he explained.

The EVC then called on the public not to hesitate to report cases of call masking to NCC, promising that appropriate measures would be taken against such persons.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Director Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, stated that the forum allows for face to face encounter with the public and Stakeholders in the telecom industry and the theme is aimed at ensuring national security and a level playing ground for all telecom licensees.

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