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Buhari Allegedly Waives N70b Spectrum Fee for Telcos

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Facts have emerged on how President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), allegedly waived over N70 billion in spectrum fees for Emerging Market Telecommunications Service (EMTS), trading as 9mobile in Nigeria.

Buhari Allegedly Waives N70b Spectrum Fee for Telcos

According to The Guardian, since the rebranding of Etisalat to 9mobile in July 2017, the firm has been linked to a particular billionaire in the north with close ties to the Presidency. This is believed to have granted the telecommunications firm some preferential treatment in the industry, as against other telcos.

The Guardian sighted a letter from the NCC, which conveyed approval of the waiver to the telecommunications firm.

Approval of such a waiver, according to industry sources, is a clear case of favouritism and unfairness to other competitors. They claimed the action has potential to distort the level playing field and undermine growth of the telecoms industry in Nigeria.

According to sources, the waiver formed part of last minute underhand dealings, which the ministry, through its closeness to the Presidency, was able to facilitate.

The letter by NCC, signed by its Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, dated May 8, 2023, was addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of the telecommunications, EMTS, titled: ‘RE: Appeal for Concession on Payment of Spectrum Licence Fees’.

The commission, in the letter, referred to the above subject matter and also the presidential approval conveyed through a letter with reference number: HMCDE/026/GEN/Vol. VII, dated April 6, 2023, from the office of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy on the request by Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited (EMTS).

In the letter, NCC said it conveyed the approval of Mr. President on the prayers of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy for necessary action.

According to the letter, the prayers were: a 50 per cent waiver on the total amount on the outstanding spectrum fees due to the Federal Government of Nigeria; installment payment of the balance of 50 per cent (unwaived) of the outstanding Spectrum fees spread over a period of 10 years; and that EMTS should make immediate payment of the first installment of the amount (50 per cent) to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

In view of these prayers, EMTS was informed that the amount waived on 900/1800MHz band is N43, 608,048,767.50 and for the 2100MHz band, N29, 329, 977, 600.00.

In addition, the document revealed that installment payment of the balance, yearly, for 900/1800MHz band is N4,360,804,876.75 and for the 2100MHz band, N2, 932,997,760.00, over a period of 10 years.

EMTS was told that the amount immediately due for first installment of 900/1800MHz band is N4, 360,804,876.75 and for the 2100MHz band, N2, 932,997,760.00.

According to the letter, EMTS is to ensure immediate payment of the amount stated for payment as approved by Mr. President vide a letter, dated March 31, 2023.

The telecommunications firm is also to note that this concession does not only apply to new accruals on spectrum, and EMTS is to ensure strict compliance, as appropriate sanctions shall be applied in cases of non-compliance.

However, efforts to get more clarifications on this development from NCC proved abortive as of press time.

The Guardian,reached out to the Commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Mouka, on Tuesday, who promised to clarify and get back on Wednesday, but as of press time, yesterday, there was no information from him.

Several calls were put across to his mobile numbers, but his network operators claimed the numbers were switched-off. Text messages were equally sent to the numbers without any response, as of the time of filling this copy.

The Guardian,also reached out to the Head, Corporate Commission, NCC, Mrs. Nnenna Okoha, who directed our reporter to NCC, Director of Public Affairs.

Truly, spectrum has been described as the life wire of the telecommunications industry. Only recently, during a 5G auction, which presented MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications and Airtel as winners, between 2021 and 2022, the Federal Government, through the NCC, raked in some $820 million from fees paid for the licenses.

Source: The Guardian

 


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Nigerians Rush as Konga Slashes Prices of Starlink Satellite Internet Kits by 50 Percent

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Konga’s latest addition to its family of technology products, Starlink Satellite Internet Kits, has been met with overwhelming customer demand. The company is Starlink’s only authorised Shop-In-Shop eCommerce partner in Nigeria and provides immediate warranties on all Starlink kits bought from Konga.

Since the e-commerce giant broke the news of the price slash at 9pm on Tuesday night, shoppers in need of reliable, fast, low-latency internet services have trooped to konga.com to grab their share of the unbeatable deal on offer for the Space X engineered satellite kit. Until March of this year, the internet kits had been selling for N800,000 due to the devaluation of the Naira, and now go for N440,000 with the local currency regaining its strength.

As the clock races and limited stock runs out, our investigation confirms that those who purchased Starlink on Konga have begun to receive same-day delivery shipping for their orders in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Rivers State.

On its e-commerce website, the unprecedented surge in demand for the product saw web traffic triple in 4 hours as customers took advantage of the great pricing and seamless order process available via the authentic official Starlink store in Nigeria on Konga.

Konga is yet to reveal how many units of the product it will be releasing to the market at the current discounted price; however, insider reports indicate that there is limited stock available for a short time at this amount. For this reason, customers are encouraged to place their orders immediately.

According to the Head of Business for Konga’s commercial unit, Emmanuel Ekwedike, the online shopping platform always delivers deals that make sense. With the Starlink kits, while customers can buy online and have the orders shipped to their homes and offices nationwide, they can also visit any Konga retail outlet around the country to make an instant purchase.

In February, Konga announced the launch of Starlink kits on its platform with an initial selling price of N378,000 to great reviews. As the month advances, the excitement is still running high as users get high-end quality experiences from purchasing genuine kits and other products with global warranty at its retail outlets and online via the e-commerce portal.

Konga.com is Nigeria’s largest customer centric omnichannel online mall. It launched operations in July 2012 and is on a mission to become the engine of commerce and trade in Africa.

Starlink kits provide high-speed internet services to users around the world through advanced low-latency satellite technology, as a solution to internet disruptions caused by fibre cuts.


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New Salesforce-WhatsApp Integration brings Marketing and Service Conversations together

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Salesforce, the #1 AI CRM, announced the general availability of Unified Conversations for WhatsApp, which transforms one-way marketing promotions or service requests into dynamic, two-way conversations from a single WhatsApp number.

Instead of managing separate threads for promotions and support, customers can automatically receive personalised opt-in marketing promotions and individual support all within a single WhatsApp chat between a brand and customer.

This allows companies like Agibank to use data stored in Salesforce from across their more than 900 hubs within WhatsApp to deliver personalised loan proposals, resolve concerns faster, and better support customers — all in a single conversation.

Why it matters: Seventy-nine percent of customers expect consistent interactions across departments and 75% want to communicate with brands using messaging. However, businesses aren’t meeting these expectations. Customers report that disconnected experiences are their top frustration when dealing with an organisation.

Salesforce perspective: “With more than two billion people using WhatsApp today, Salesforce’s new Unified Conversations for WhatsApp enables brands to connect with their customers where they are and have a single, connected, and trusted experience,” said Steve Hammond, EVP and GM, Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

“This helps brands break down barriers across their company and build stronger relationships throughout their customer’s journey, including natural handoffs from marketing to service teams, by driving the right personalised engagement, no matter where they are in the customer journey, at the right time and in the right context.”

Go deeper: Unified Conversations for WhatsApp is powered by Salesforce Data Cloud. Data Cloud allows companies to bring all of their trapped data into Salesforce and build a unified customer profile across all products, services, and interactions. This allows marketers and service agents to work off the same, shared customer profile and provides them with the relevant context needed to deliver trusted experiences across both departments in a single chat thread.

Innovation in action: By combining marketing and service conversations together in Unified Conversations for WhatsApp:

  • Marketers can segment audiences and create content for marketing campaigns while giving service agents a window into customers’ interactions to provide recommended next best actions using a single WhatsApp number.

  • Inside one WhatsApp conversation, healthcare organisations can schedule, confirm, and provide follow-up support for procedures and appointments.

  • Financial service institutions can prevent fraud by offering a single experience in WhatsApp to proactively verify and provide assistance for unusual transactions.

  • Travellers can respond to personalised trip offers and book experiences through chatbot-powered prompts in WhatsApp.

 


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Meta to Blur Nude Photos on Instagram for Teen Safety

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Meta the owner of Instagram is introducing a new safety feature to help protect teenagers from seeing unwanted nude photos in their direct messages.

Meta to Blur Nude Photos on Instagram for Teen Safety

The feature will automatically blur out nude images if the recipient is identified as a teenager.

Meta said this safety measure is aimed at addressing three main problems.

First, teenagers sometimes receive nude photos that they didn’t ask for and don’t want to see.

Second, sending nude photos of teenagers, even if it’s the teenagers themselves sending them, can be against the law. And third, there are scams where teenagers, especially boys, are tricked into sending explicit photos and then blackmailed.

The tech giant is under mounting pressure in the United States and Europe over allegations that its apps were addictive and have fueled mental health issues among young people.

Meta said the protection feature for Instagram’s direct messages would use on-device machine learning to analyze whether an image sent through the service contains nudity.

Meta, the company that owns Instagram, will use this technology to detect nude photos in direct messages. If the recipient is flagged as a teenager based on their birthdate, the photo will be blurred, and a warning message will appear.

Attorneys general of 33 U.S. states, including California and New York, sued the company in October, saying it repeatedly misled the public about the dangers of its platforms.

In Europe, the European Commission has sought information on how Meta protects children from illegal and harmful content.

 

 


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