Teleology Holdings, the preferred bidder for the deal, has reeled out its 10-point agenda for 9mobile.
This is coming some 24 hours after meeting Thursday’s deadline set by the financial adviser handling the sale of 9mobile for the payment of the $50 million non-refundable cash deposit for the Nigeria’s fourth largest telecoms operator.
According to Teleology, it plans to implement the agenda by the time it takes full ownership, after it must have completed payment of the balance of $500 million bid price for 9mobile, which it has been given another 90 days to meet.
Having partnered Safaricom, the biggest telecoms operator in East Africa to transform 9mobile, Teleology said the emerging telecoms company would be engineering-led, to enable it compete favourably with existing telecoms companies in Nigeria, that must have gained more market shares during the 9mobile financial crisis.
Teleology, in a statement detailed an ambitious plan of action that will guide its rapid overhaul not only of the network but all aspects of the operations.
According to Mr. Adrian Wood, its director “9mobile is transiting into a new phase that will be defined by optimal value delivery: value to our employees, value to our customers, value to local communities and indeed to all stakeholders.”
He added that the new organisation to emerge would be “engineering led and brand driven, ” adding that in delivering service, “we will strive to ensure that 9mobile operations deliver fulfillment to our customers, empowerment to local communities, protection to the vulnerable, and excellent rewards not only to our shareholders but to all stakeholders.”
Wood added that Teleology has set out a 10-point plan that aggregates its mission and how it intends to turn the 9mobile organisation around.
Part of the plan is to double the 9mobile network with new 3G/4G specific cell sites as well as a several thousands of kilometers of fiber optic cable across the country. It will drive a special program of rural internet coverage, focusing on 4G with broadband access planned for all of Nigeria’s 774 Local government areas.
Youth engagement and employment programs are also planned with all build contractors, distributors and consultants, he said, while investment in broadband internet access technologies which are completely new to Nigeria, are also planned. Wood said the 9mobile network would be optimised for high speed and high capacity data including imaging, video, games, music, IPTV and more.
“Any three-point plan or three-dimension idea is naïve and completely missing the scope and complexity of the urgent Nigerian need to be brought into the 21st century broadband era,” Wood said in the statement.
Teleology, he added, envisages an increase of 50 per cent in direct employment in the new 9mobile. There is also an active plan to introduce within the first year, several million 4G-capable premium quality smartphones, at exceedingly affordable pricing.
“Nigerians should look forward to a new regime of intensely exciting and innovative brand loyalty rewards programs, from the new 9mobile,” he said.
He disclosed that Teleology had entered into an alliance with Safaricom, the largest network operator in East Africa.
Safaricom is famous for its global “mpesa” mobile financial services system, which advances financial inclusion and supports the network with the highest operating efficiencies in Africa.
Coming at a period when competition in the Nigerian telecom industry has for some years been limited to price wars between the various GSM companies, clearly, Teleology’s coming will very likely herald a new era of intense competition and quest for market share among Nigeria’s telecom operators.
Teleology is promoted by a group of 12 telecom industry veterans with considerable experience not only in Nigeria and Africa but in the global telecom space as well. The executive management for instance, boasts more than 337 years of collective frontline operational management experience, Wood said.
He however expressed thanks to Barclays Africa, the financial advisers to the 9mobile transaction, the Nigerian bank syndicate, the backing and support of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which he said, made 9mobile’s survival possible. He also expressed his gratitude to the loyal 9mobile management and staff who carried on in the face of skepticism, doubt and negative market sentiment.
Wood assured Nigerians that additional details including formal relaunch plans would be unveiled in due course.
Helios Towers Halts African Expansion
Telecommunications tower infrastructure company, Helios Towers has announced that it cannot go ahead with the investment on its expansion plans for Africa, in the light of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic that has also hit telecoms markets in Africa.
Helios Towers CEO Kash Pandya said the current environment does not favour acquisition operations.
“It’s not that the talks are stalled, because you can always have conference calls, but for real mergers and acquisitions to happen, you need things like field investigations. It will be slower for a few months, but the world will have to return to normal at some point.”
In Africa, Helios Towers currently operates in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Ghana and South Africa.
Aside its current markets, Helios Towers had previously expressed interests in the Ethiopian market where it is aiming to acquire 2,500 towers over the next five years, and the intention is to construct a similar number of towers in the country within the same period.
Pandya noted that the company has had to deal with similar health-related threats to the telecom sector in DR Congo.
“We have gained some experience in this kind of situation with regard to comparable and difficult moments crossed in some of our markets, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the Ebola epidemic,” he said.
Pandya however expressed optimism in the ability of the telecoms market to weather the storm being created by the current health crisis.
It would be recalled that in October 2019, Helios Towers raised funds after listing its shares on the London Stock Exchange via an initial public offering. The company said proceeds would finance its entry into new African markets and add to a portfolio of almost 7,000 towers.
Mid-March 2020, the company released its results for the year to 31 December 2019 which showed revenue increased by 9% year-on-year to US$388 million from US$356 million in 2018. The company attributed the growth to continued growth in the number of sites and tenancies.
“Helios Towers has had another strong year, both financially and operationally. Revenues increased +9% to US$388-million, Adjusted EBITDA grew 16% to US$205-million. Our operating profit was a touch below breakeven at US$-5 million and included US$63 million of exceptional items, deal costs and non-cash costs related to our value-accretive site consolidation program,” Pandya said.
For 2020 and beyond, the CEO said the company will continue to focus on driving profitable revenue expansion by leveraging the exciting growth in its sub-Saharan markets, long-term client contracts and sustained improvements in its operations, while also prioritising further inorganic opportunities.
“Helios Towers is investing heavily in local expertise, capabilities and training that deliver the services for our MNO customers and their users, as well as generating broader economic benefits in the countries in which we operate. We also remain keenly focused on delivering on the structural opportunities present across Africa,” Pandya stated.
Governors, MTN Partner to Halt Spread of COVID-19 with Data
Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and MTN Nigeria have agreed to use the vulnerability model to drive a data-driven approach to stopping the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
Both have reiterated the importance of cancelling all deductions and deferring or restructuring all commercial debt service payments on the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-owned debts.
The agreement with MTN Nigeria was reached Sunday at the meeting held to deliberate on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The approval was given by the governors after the Forum received a presentation from Mazen Mroue, chief operating officer and Olubayo Adekanmbi, chief transformation officer, MTN Nigeria, on the ongoing collaboration with the NGF Secretariat to profile States vulnerability to the spread of the coronavirus based on parameters such as population age and density, travel history, location, income level.
In a communique signed by Governor Kayode Fayemi, chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, members also emphasized the necessity for stronger collaboration with States because they are best positioned to administer palliatives to mitigate the impact of the crisis, including the distribution of food and essential materials to households to help them cope with the expected loss of income and livelihoods.
This was following a briefing from Boss Mustapha, secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), on the activities of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 which he chairs, the Forum having commended the SGF and his team for the commitment in leading a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Forum expressed appreciation to the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for their pledge to support States increase their capacity to mitigate the spread of the virus and care for confirmed cases through the construction of isolation centres and the distribution of personal protective equipment to States. The governors stressed the need for CACOVID to work directly with the States in the distribution of palliatives.
Governors unanimously supported the unification of exchange rates into a single, market-determined window and the use of the market-determined exchange rate to calculate all revenues due to the federation.
The NGF Chairman had briefed state governors on ongoing coordination with the World Bank to mobilise support for States to mitigate the economic and social cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ongoing plans include accelerated disbursement of existing and new financing for States under the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results, and mitigation and recovery support for expenditures to protect livelihoods, support local economic activity and recovery over the next 18 months to 2 years.
Arewa Youth Assembly Scores Danbatta High on Stewardship
Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA), a socio-cultural northern group in Nigeria, has rated Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta high in his stewardship as the executive vice chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission since 2015.
The group made this known in a statement issued in Abuja at the weekend, where it adjudged Danbatta’s performance as having more strategically positioned the NCC to be at the forefront of accelerating socio-economic development of the country.
In the statement, signed by Mohammed Danlami, its speaker, the group, said, it has undertaken an assessment of Danbatta’s achievements since his appointment as the EVC of NCC on August 4, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari and subsequently confirmed on November 25, 2015 by the Senate, for a five-year term in office at the first instance, subject to renewal for a second term by the President in line with the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003.
Danladi highlighted the key achievements of Danbatta, which, he said, have further consolidated the growth already recorded in the industry and prepared a more fertile ground for the country to experience accelerated socio-economic development leveraging telecoms platforms.
According to him, “Through his 8-Point Agenda, as a five-year clear roadmap for his first term, Danbatta has ensured more Nigerians are now connected on 3G and 4G with over 72 million Nigerians on these broadband networks. Also, he pioneered the trial 5G network in 2019, which are future frontiers in digital communications. Danbatta also introduced the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb (DND) short code 2016 to tackle the menace of unsolicited telemarketing for the citizens.
“Also, the Commission, under Danbatta, issued a direction to service providers on Data Roll-Over, enabling consumers to roll over unused data for period of time, ranging from 1 day to 7 days, depending on the data plan, among other consumer- centric directives.”
The youth group said another portion of the agenda that stood out was how Danbatta revolutionised stakeholder engagement. “From Ogun State, where Danbatta used his clout to ensure 47 base stations were immediately unsealed by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, to Kano State, where over N200 million was waived on levies, to Kogi State, where where 120 base station sites were reopened in 2018, Danbatta energy and proactive strategy are in display,” the AYA Speaker said.
Speaking further, the youth group said in the area of strategic collaboration, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Danbatta and Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CNB), Godwin Emefiele, with a view to boosting mobile money service penetration and financial inclusion in the country has also struck a chord. “With this development, there’s permeating optimism that the country will be able to deepen the inclusion to 80 per cent by 2020.”
Nonetheless, the AYA said that the inter-agency partnership between the two giant regulators has also born another fruit, saving a major service provider, 9mobile, from imminent collapse while Danbatta has also ensured the successful listing of telecoms companies, MTN and Airtel on the Nigerians Stock Exchange (NSE) making Nigerians to have ownership shares in the companies.
“Under his leadership, as NCC boss, Professor Danbatta ensured the completion of Emergency Communications Centres (ECCs) across the country to promote and enhance public safety through a toll-free, three-digit number, ‘112’, as the Universal Emergency Communications telephone number in Nigeria,” he said, adding that “the toll-free number can help distressed persons access help from the Police, Road Safety Corps, Civil Defence Corps, Fire and Ambulance Services and emergency responders.”
Danlami also noted that Danbatta has introduced many regulatory frameworks such as the E-waste Regulations, Commercial Satellite Regulations, Disaster Recovery Guidelines, VAS Aggregator Licence Framework, and National Roaming Framework, which is still being worked on, among several others.
Danlami also maintained that in the last five years, access to telecoms service has increased from around 150 million to 186 million; Internet subscribers increased from about 80 million to close to 130 million; broadband penetration rose from six per cent to close to 40 percent.
He noted that telecoms contributions to gross domestic product (GDP) has also increased from 8 percent to 11 percent, quality of service has improved, cases of unsolicited text messages have been curtailed while many initiatives have been put in place under Danbatta for adequate consumer protection.
“For us at AYA, we are happy that Danbatta is contributing immensely to socio-economic development of Nigeria in all spheres. Aside his leadership qualities and sagacity, he is an embodiment of humility and an epitome of good leadership. He was born to make the world a great place and he has lived up to that assignment at NCC.
“In terms of staff welfare and development, he has written his name in Gold. We are confident that posterity will forever recognise him as major contributor to the growth of Nigeria’s economy through effective and innovative regulation of the digital ecosystem to propel overall national development,” he said in the statement.
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