Engr. Isaiah A. Mohammed, managing director, Globaltouch West Africa is a known personality in the telecommunications industry in the country. He started his career in Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (Nitel) where he retired in 1996 as executive director. He thereafter, was appointed into the board of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), it was after leaving NCC that he started Globaltouch. He spoke to chike onwuegbuchi and funmi ilesanmi on the roll out plans of his company and other issues in the industry.
Unique Feature of Global Touch Tracking System
The difference is in coverage. Our coverage is ubiquitous because since our satellite hovers at 1500km, so we are able to cover the whole country. GSM operators delivering data services use bandwidth stations invariably there is always black spot. Subscribers will always have to contend with lack of coverage but in our case, data is always available so we have full coverage all over the country and beyond.
Accessing the Service
What you will purchase are modems which you programme and put on your handset and you can track the web. We are going into voice service later, when we start selling our voice phones, we will always have the same universal coverage. Presently, we can program our modems to send SMS messages on existing GSM phones, so, if we could do that on GSM phones, we can also do it on our phones certainly.
Launching Voice Service
We cover the whole country from day one. From our gateway in Kaduna, we access the whole country so we are not going from village to village. When we started in November, the whole country was covered. We are looking at connectivity between our gateway and the rest of the networks. Nitel unfortunately which we would have connected to in Kaduna is now a little bit narrow band, so we are now looking at the licensed carrier to carry our voice service. When this is sorted out, we will roll out voice service. We cannot loose hope on Nitel because it is a national asset and I am sure it will bounce back but of course we have to continue offering services until that time comes.
How your Data Service Works
We have standard lamp modem, electric powered with batteries that can last up to seven years. So if you put it on your remote asset you can sit down in the comfort of your office and see the performance of that asset. If it is a moving asset, you can see it as it gets boosted or integrates you to be monitored by you remotely.
Oil companies can use it to monitor let’s say pipelines. Anybody can also use it to control their data acquisition. Our platform is suitable to provide that service because people can sit down in their offices and see what happens with their assets. They can monitor the condition of their pipelines, warehouse, tankers and everything else.
Relationship with Global Star
With over 350,000 subscribers, Globalstar is the world’s largest provider of mobile satellite voice and data services. Globalstar offers these services to commercial and recreational users in more than 120 countries around the world. The Company’s products include mobile and fixed satellite telephones, simplex and duplex satellite data modems and flexible service packages. Many land based and maritime industries benefit from Globalstar with increased productivity from remote areas beyond cellular and landline service. Global customer segments include: oil and gas, government, mining, forestry, commercial fishing, utilities, military, transportation, heavy construction, emergency preparedness, and business continuity as well as individual recreational users. Globalstar data solutions are ideal for various asset and personal tracking, data monitoring and SCADA applications.
Globalstar is the owner of the constellation of which there are 48 satellites hovering around at lower orbit. This means1500 kilometres above the earth, so if you imagine a tower 1500km high, the coverage is very very high indeed and that is why we cover the whole country.
Also, with broadband of fibre, we have involved Globalstar in the operation of Global Touch and they have up to 30 percent equity interest in GlobalTouch. That means that we can guarantee that they will be with us forever, they are not running away by the reason of the equity interest they have in GlobalTouch.
By virtue of having equity interest, they are on the Board of GlobalTouch. It means that the performance of management of Globaltouch is strictly on them. Whatever it takes to ensure that GlobalTouch succeeds, I am sure they will perform.
Mapping is a different thing all together. There are many mapping people out there, so we are going to use them. It depends on whichever mapping the operator wants to do. We will offer Google Earth as a matter of cost but if you have your own preference about mapping, we can still compose our tracking maps to suite your need.
Tracking Kidnappers, Others
Yes, that is called the personal tracker which you carry around with you, which consist of alarm setting and so on. That is one of our prime offering; we hope that with that data, security is guaranteed. When you subscribe to that it is very cheap and the lifespan is very long.
Doing business in Nigeria is always a challenge and we try to overcome the challenges. In terms of starting a service, we have scaled a lot of hurdles. Now with marketing, we will penetrate the market and compete with what is on ground and in doing so, we have our strengths which we are going to ensure is fully exploited. Starting GlobalTouch some years after acquiring license is part of the challenges we have to face. Raising funds and getting the banks to support long time projects.
The power issue is not peculiar to telecoms, it applies to every facet of Nigerian life but since we have only one gateway, we have made sure we have full backups. We have giant generators that will ensure that 24/7 we have power on site and PHCN access standby.
GlobalTouch in the next Five Years
In the next five years, we will be the foremost data carrier in Nigeria and beyond. Our gateway also covers all the way to Cote d’ivoire and all the way down to Gabon. We will saturate all of these sub-regions with our services in terms of data and voice. That is where we hope to position ourselves in the next five years.
Global Touch in the Telecommunications Space
Global Touch has been licensed to provide a type of service called Global Satellite and Mobile Communications (GMPCS). We use orbit satellite which is a footprint that covers the whole country so that there is no black spot in the whole country. We commence data services mostly tracking in November last year. Our tracking services are far superior to anything that is on ground at the moment because we do not have any black spot at all. Later on, we will extend to full duplex and voice services. Full duplex is a two-way data, it means you can send and receive information.
We also offers asset tracking service which enables you to keep track of your mobile assets anywhere in West Africa. A satellite tracking unit is to secure your asset. The self contained, self powered satellite tracking unit sends location and alarm information across the Globalstar satellite network which enables you to locate, map and track mobile assets throughout West Africa and its surrounding waters.
Collect and deliver telemetry data from your remote monitoring solution – with or without mapping.
View and manage assets online through the secure, feature rich, simple to configure Web based application. Always stay in touch through sophisticated schedule or event driven alerting functionality delivered via email or SMS (where available).
Globaltouch will be offering high quality and affordable voice services to our customers using either fixed phones or handheld. Trial commercial voice services started late in 2009 with full commercial services being launched in 2010.
Globalstar data communications allow businesses the power to access, send and receive data from remote areas around the world. Special Purpose Modems can be integrated into solutions for asset tracking and remote sensing, monitoring and control of in-field operations. Two-way data communications may be either asynchronous or packet based with connection speeds of up to 9.6 kbps. Trial commercial of 2-way data services commenced last year with full commercial services bid to be launched in 2010
Nigeria Economy – A New Quarter but Same Old Story
By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,
Africa’s largest economy entered the new quarter with a strong likelihood of following the same old story, namely COVID-19 headwinds, recessionary trends and widespread local and global market uncertainty.
What are the chances of a plot twist?
In a year full of twists and turns, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) surprised investors with a 100 basis point interest rate cut from 12.5 percent to 11.5 percent. The monetary policy signal is a green light for more affordable lending which could stimulate economic growth and temper recessionary pressures. However, the same green light could speed up the inflationary pressures which weigh on the economy.
The currency markets may view the CBN’s rate cut as a sign that monetary policy no longer prioritises foreign investors seeking high returns on deposits.
Until now, the CBN’s hawkish monetary policy helped to maintain and grow the banking system’s foreign currency reserves, providing the Naira with a cushion against further weakness. The current weakening global and domestic economic outlook does not support a high-interest rate environment in the short term. Faced with a protracted recession or runaway inflation, the CBN appears to have chosen the lesser of two evils. The central bank’s latest statement indicates that high interest rates have not been successful in checking inflation, which the CBN blames on structural factors like rising fuel and electricity prices.
This raises the question of why an Oil-producing country faces inflation in fuel and electricity prices when fossil fuels are locally produced and ought to be more affordable. The answer is the strange economic distortion created by COVID-19. In this case, Nigeria applied to borrow $3.4 Billion from the IMF in order to bail out the economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will have to be repaid – cue a hike in electricity tariffs to increase government revenues from utilities and bolster its repayment capacity. This would be credit-positive as the last thing Nigeria needs in such extraordinary times are doubts over its creditworthiness.
Weaker global Oil prices make Nigeria’s creditworthiness even more of an important factor because the state is hard-pressed to cover its budgetary needs in the current climate of low demand for crude Oil.
Now that the CBN has put checking inflation lower down in its priorities, does this signal further rate cuts in the near future?
The case for further pandemic-driven rate cuts appears to be strong. The COVID-19 outbreak shows no signs of abating. On the contrary, at the time of writing, the number of new cases in Nigeria is on the rise after lockdowns eased. Further monetary stimulus to the economy appears unavoidable.
Of course, it all depends on what happens with inflation. If the inflation rate keeps rising in sectors like fuel, electricity and food it may drag on consumer spending, outstripping the economic benefits of lower interest rates. Medical costs have also risen because of COVID-19, according to the August inflation statistics.
The pandemic comes at a time when Nigeria is exposed to external and domestic risks. Locally, the drive to diversify the economy stayed stuck in first gear. Border clashes between herders and farmers led to border closures, further dampening economic activity. Externally, Oil prices remain in a slump, the US Dollar is appreciating and global sentiment struggles with the COVID-19 circumstances.
Further elevating fears over a technical recession in Nigeria, the World Bank forecasts an economic contraction of 3.2 percent for the full-year 2020, a five percent drop from its previous projection.
Summing up, Nigeria’s outlook remains influenced by the same old themes. If Oil prices stay depressed, foreign currency reserves and government revenues will likely decline. Low Oil prices also impact the CBN’s capacity to defend the Naira. A falling Naira could accelerate inflation and further weigh on economic growth. Will the final quarter of 2020 see a continuation of these themes, or will the economy offer a positive surprise?
The banking sector remains a bright spot in the cloudy outlook. Easier borrowing terms might boost the banking sector’s income while encouraging economic activity. Another bright spot is that growth in China has returned, promising to hike demand in the Oil markets and further supporting Oil prices.
After the year we’ve had so far, one thing’s sure: surprises are only to be expected.
FG Mulls Renewable Energy for Improved Power Supply
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology, has said that the federal government plans to diversify the country’s energy supply sources to include renewable energy towards accelerating socio-economic development.
Onu stated this when he declared open the forum on ‘Scaling-up interconnected mini-grids development in Nigeria’, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-GEF) and the Energy Commission of Nigeria, in Abuja.
He said that renewable energy will help the nation meet its electricity needs in a functional and sustainable manner, adding that it will also improve the quality of life in the country.
“Nigeria is endowed with substantial energy resources such as coal, crude oil and natural gas; renewables such as hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, waves and tides, as well as biomass.
“The challenge before us, has always been on how to efficiently transform these resources into adequate and reliable energy for national development using our enormous capacity in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship”, he said.
The minister explained that since the inception of the present administration in 2015, electronic power generation capacity had increased at an annual rate of about 390 megawatts per year.
He, however, said that while this is commendable, it could not adequately meet the needs of the country’s population and sustain the desired level of economic development.
Onu further observed that Nigeria’s desire to industrialise cannot be realised without adequate power supply.
He stressed that every effort must be made to ensure that homes, offices, factories, schools, hospitals and laboratories in the country have adequate, reliable and affordable electricity supply.
“Renewable energy could meet Nigeria’s energy needs in the area of job creation and improved standard of living in rural areas,” he said.
He added that the development of solar photo-voltaic (Pv) in the country triggered by increase in demand for rural water supply, lighting, health services and micro-enterprise needs to be regulated to stimulate private sector participation.
ROAM Africa Reports Over 2,400 Candidates Applying for One Role as Jobs Stiffens
ROAM Africa (Ringier One Africa Media), the leading digital classifieds group in Sub-Saharan Africa, has released figures that highlight the current state of the jobs market in Africa, with one standard role attracting 2,417 applications.
Analysing 69,511 jobs listings from January 2019 to August 2020 across 5 African countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), ROAM Africa’s data sheds more light on the challenges facing both job seekers and employers in the African jobs market.
The standard job listing that attracted 2,417 applications was for a Receptionist/Admin Assistant in Kenya while another listing for call centre agents and team leaders attracted 2,283 applicants.
Similar is observed also for other markets: In Ghana, 2,299 people applied for an Administrative Assistant role and 2,265 people in Tanzania applied for a Sales Representative role.
In Nigeria, the highest number of applications for a single role was 2,095 and it was for a Sales Representative role.
According to ROAM Africa’s data, Kenya contributed the highest amount of new job listings in 2019 with 33%. Nigeria was in second place with 31% and Uganda was in third place with 17%. However, so far in 2020, Nigeria is leading the way with 40% of new job listings, with Kenya in second place with 28% and Uganda in third place with 13%.
A closer look at ROAM Africa’s data reveals that, apart from Nigeria, there was a drop in overall job listings across all job levels during the last months.
However, there was an increase in graduate trainee and ‘no experience’ roles in Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana from May to July 2020, which offers some hope for new entrants into the jobs market.
Interestingly, recruitment agencies contributed the most roles, with 16% of overall jobs, closely followed by IT and Telecoms with 15% and Advertising media and communications with 12%.
Some candidates have also reported applying for more than 20 jobs a day for multiple months and only getting to the interview stage on a handful of occasions. This is why ROAM Africa’s jobs platforms Jobberman (Ghana and Nigeria) and BrighterMonday (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) are focused on matching technology.
The company’s technology helps employers to identify and score the right candidates faster. Suitable candidates are made visible to prospective employers, and helped across the finish line by providing data driven career development tools and training programmes.
Job seekers using the platforms can expect to improve their CV, gain interview tips and sign-up for online training courses designed to bridge the gap between education and employment.
Commenting on the data, Clemens Weitz, CEO of ROAM Africa said, “The high ratio of applications per job listing really highlights how challenging the jobs market is for employers and job seekers. Both employers and job seekers are struggling to connect with the right opportunities and more needs to be done to address this.
“Employers must rethink their hiring strategies and clearly define what they are looking for, based on data and insights. Job seekers must also invest in personal development that will make it easier for them to stand out in such a crowded and competitive market.”
Weitz also added that, “We believe that Africa’s greatest asset is its people and their entrepreneurial spirit. With the expected growth in the continent’s population, we must begin to put structures in place that will make it easier for African businesses to make the most of this resource.”
According to Hilda Kragha, Managing Director of ROAM Africa’s Jobs platforms, “With the current state of the jobs market, Africans cannot afford to continue with the antiquated recruitment processes that are commonplace in many organisations.
We must prioritise a digital approach to recruitment, which brings transparency to Africa’s labour market while connecting people to work opportunities that will improve their livelihood.
We must also embrace objectivity in the recruitment process by incorporating innovation that makes it easier to fairly and consistently sort for the best candidates. This will ensure that only qualified candidates are applying for roles and employers get an accurate picture of jobseekers’ capabilities. A win-win for both job seekers and employers.”
“Our data highlights both the challenge and opportunity that come with the African jobs market. We must address the challenge of rampant unemployment but also embrace the opportunity to transform how recruitment is done. By doing this, we will not only be addressing the current problems but also future-proofing our businesses and organizations for generations to come.”
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