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Telecom Colonization Imminent – Daranijo

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Sinari Daranijo, Chief Executive Officer, Elcomserve Nigeria Limited
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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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Helpful International Travel Tips for First-Time Travelers

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By Adeniyi Ogunfowoke,

You’re excited, obviously because you’re about to head off for your first international trip, and it’s an amazing feeling. It’s also a daunting feeling. How will you cope? How much money will you spend trying to deal with it? It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes the first time you travel. Regardless, you can limit these mistakes by following these helpful international travel tips especially if it is your first time.

Get your passport in advance

This is the most important of all tips for first-time international travellers. Avoid unnecessary stress by applying for a passport well before your expected departure date. Don’t book a flight or make any arrangements that can’t be changed until you have a passport in your hand. Some international flights require that you enter your passport number when booking or during online check-in, so it’s best to just have it first before you start booking anything.

Ensure you have access to your money

Gone are the days when you need to carry cash or travellers’ cheques to travel overseas. Now, thanks to the internet, it’s much easier to manage and access money while travelling all over the world. Check with your bank to see if you need to set up a travel alert while you’re abroad so your bank knows when and where you’re travelling. You can also inquire about international fees, and whether they have partner banks in the destination that will help you save money on costly foreign transaction ATM fees. Overall, ensure that you have access to your money.

Book everything in advance

How advance should you book everything? Some experts say that booking airfare between 56-62 days before the departure date is the best way to get a good deal. No matter what, the best time to book is whenever you have the money and are ready to commit to your first international trip. However, as earlier stated, ensure that your documents are ready before booking your flight. Notwithstanding, when you are ready to travel, you can visit Jumia’s hotel and flight marketplace to book your flight. You will get the best available rate.

Give yourself ample time to get over jet lag

As you start booking your first international trip, you may want to pack it all in by planning to visit as many destinations as possible immediately you arrive. This is an action that will leave you stressed. The best advice is to slow down, at least for the first day or two, to recover from jetlag.

Research events going on while you’re there

This will help you make sure that you’re not missing the best events going on in the city — fun things like festivals and ceremonies. Also, be sure to research some of their best cuisines. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing it.

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Court Dismisses Suit on Sale of 9mobile

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A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Wednesday dismissed a suit filed by Spectrum Wireless Communications Limited against Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), owners of 9mobile, challenging the sale of the company.

 

The court, presided over by Justice CJ Aneke, in a ruling on the preliminary objections filed by counsel to EMTS, upheld that the defendant’s prayers in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/153/2018 that there was no direct shareholding relationship between Spectrum Wireless and EMTS, thereby vesting on Spectrum the right to sue EMTS to protect its alleged shareholding in

 

The court also upheld the defendant’s position that there was no privity of contract between EMTS and Spectrum as Spectrum was not a shareholder in EMTS and could not be said to have been directly affected by the actions of its shareholders – Mubadala Holdings Cyprus Ltd, Myacynth and Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd.

 

The court further upheld the defendant’s position that if at Spectrum had a right of action, its action should be against PTHNV, the company it originally invested in and not EMTS.

 

The court, therefore, upheld the submission of counsel to EMTS that not being a shareholder of EMTS, Spectrum lacked the locus standi to bring the suit against EMTS on the basis of any decision taken by the shareholders of EMTS.

 

The court, therefore, upheld the defendant’s prayers saying that Spectrum lacked the locus standi to sue, adding that the concept of “indirect shareholding/economic interest” claimed by Spectrum was unknown to Nigerian law, which only recognized members of a company as those named in its Register of Members.

 

Justice Aneke also held that Spectrum is not a party to the credit facilities which it claimed were unlawfully obtained, and its elementary law that only parties to a contract can make judicial claims in respect thereof.

 

The court, therefore, dismissed the suit in its entirety.

 

In his reaction to the ruling, Ore Olajide, Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, 9mobile, said “this was victory for democracy, victory for the rule of law in Nigeria, victory for company law, victory for legal practitioners, victory for corporate lawyers, academia and students of law.

 

“9mobile will continue to focus on satisfying our numerous customers and stakeholders who have faith in us and have stayed the course with us”.

 

It is recalled that Spectrum Wireless Communications sued EMTS and 16 other defendants including United Capital Trustees Limited (‘the Lenders’), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the sale of the telco.

 

The company claimed that it acquired indirect holding of 30 per cent of the shares of EMTS after a private placement and was allotted 4,041,096 Class A shares of Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV (“PTHNV”) which owns 99% of the shares in MyaCynth Coperative UA (“MyaCynth”).

 

The plaintiff also claimed that MyaCynth holds 30 per cent of the shares of EMTS BV and EMTS BV, holds 99.9 per cent of the shares of EMTS and that EMTS’ syndicated loan from the 2nd to 4th defendant’s and was granted without the requisite statutory approval of the CBN, and can, therefore, not be enforced through the sale of EMTS’ shares and assets by the 2nd to the 14th defendants.

 

Spectrum also claimed that its investments in EMTS would be lost if 15th to 17th defendants were allowed to effect the sale of EMTS.

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Home Lottery Fetes Winners with Mouth-watering Prizes

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Winners have emerged in the “win-a-home-today”, an initiative of the Home Lottery Limited.

In a well-attended event at De Santos Hotels in Lagos, the audience comprising bettors and would-be bettors, organisers, regulators – Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria, Nigeria Lottery Commission, and Lagos State Lottery Board – and members of the press, witnessed a live electronic raffle draw which saw six winners emerging.

The grand prize of a three-bedroom bungalow was won by Ticket Number 1529564392946 while Two Category A prizes of a 32-inch TV went to Ticket Numbers 1528378751686 and 1533624661389 respectively.

Three Category B prizes of a 1.2KV generator went to Ticket Number 152880223234 and Ticket Number 1528126343860 while a bettor with Ticket Number 1534243547513 completed the list.

Although none of the winners were in the audience, they were called on phone and placed on speaker to the hearing of all present. In an April Fools season, it wasn’t a surprise that skepticism got the better of the winners.

“Are you sure that this is not a prank?” Joy, the star prize winner said when informed of her winning entry.

However, Oladayo Oyelaja, the project lead of Dreamview Enterprises a partner of Home Lottery Limited, doused her fears.

“You are on phone with a live audience and they are interested in knowing you are real and the winner of the house,” he said.

“It is not a Fool’s Day prank. Congratulations.”

Now in a joyous mood, albeit with a little doubt, the lucky winner continued: “I bought the ticket last year and have even forgotten about it. You have to send me a mail and until the key of the house is handed over to me I won’t believe you.”

But Nkiru Onusili, a deputy director and coordinator of National Lottery Regulatory Commission, was full of conviction.

“You know that anything lottery requires transparency so the commission went for inspection to ensure everything was in place. And today we came to witness the event and so far, so good. We are quite impressed. The process was free and fair,” she said.

“But our work won’t end here. We shall go further to ensure that the winners get their prizes.

“After that, we have what we call winners’ verification. It is a follow-up exercise. After presenting the house and other gift items to the winners, we make sure the organisers don’t go and take back from them.”

Home Lottery Limited offers Lagosians the opportunity to own a home in a most accessible and affordable way by providing hundreds of homes annually through a credible, sustainable and trusted lottery scheme properties in Lagos developing to all over Nigeria.

The presentation of the prizes won takes place on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at Home Lottery Limited’s corporate head office, Block 113,plot 32A, Jay Jay Oladimeji street off Freedom Way Ikate roundabout Lekki Phase 1.

The next draw comes up in July 2019. To participate, send an SMS ‘home’ to 718 on an MTN network only.

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