Wande Adalemo, co-founder and chief operating officer, Oxygen Broadband Networks, Nigeria’s first metro Wireless Fidelity (WI-FI) network never saw a computer until 1998.
Today, Adalemo sits atop N1 billion broadband network company which has 10 hotspot locations in Lagos and seeking expansion to 100 locations in the state by 2015; and then Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano.
Overtime, the Company has grown and has attracted institutional investors such as Google and MainOne Cable Company. WaveTek has also signified interest in investing in the company and to help boost broadband access in the country. Adalemo spoke to peter ugwu on Oxygen Broadband’s achievements so far and expectations.
Oxygen Broadband’s Mission
Oxygen Broadband is Nigeria’s leading WiFi provider, we have been building hotspots at different locations in Lagos and they are qualitative.
Right now we have ten locations, where people can go, get signed up and be connected to the internet. And then move ahead with our vision to go nationwide.
Our mission is to make sure everybody has access to the internet; not just signing up to the internet, but using high-speed internet. That is our major target.
We are not coming to your home, but at locations where users can easily reach us. Actually, the pilot scheme of the project offered a flexible, cost-effective and convenient Wireless Fidelity (WI-FI) connection.
It also made the convergence of various classes of service achievable, as stakeholders in Computer Village require extensive internet services. The pilot was a huge success with over 50,000 devices connecting over the network at that single location.
Level of Enthusiasm among Users
Nigerians want to get connected. The question is: where is the connectivity? Another question is: what is the price of the connectivity?
Currently, the connectivity is not there and the challenged is compounded by the high connectivity charges.
In other words, where the price is not the issue the connectivity quality is low. So what we are doing is giving high quality connectivity hotspots.
We want to be in locations where users can have access to the internet. We see Nigerians expresse happiness about this project; they actually move towards these locations.
It is a sigh of big relief to many, especially the low income earners and students. At one of the locations in Surulere, Lagos, we have thousand users who go there to have a feel.
Like I shared our observations at the ministerial briefing, young people from remote areas are hungry for internet.
Some of these young people would approach the adults in their neighbourhood, collect their phone and go to these locations, because they know they have 30 minutes free internet connectivity and do some amazing things. We were surprised; it happened that they were actually using that medium to research about their class works and do assignments.
That is enough empowerment. When government, non-governmental organizations or operators in the industry think or talk about youth empowerment, this is one project they can look at and see the essence and the huge impact it will have on the studies of these young people, through that the society becomes better place for all of us.
Our plan is to replicate this across Nigeria. That shows that Nigerians need something like this. We receive calls from people like someone would call in asking, ‘I am moving towards Okota please where is your hotspot around the route or how do I connect?’ Such calls give us the confidence that this project is worthwhile.
And that is why we made a pledge to Nigerians: To provide superfast reliable and affordable internet; to serve Nigeria with our entire network infrastructure and uphold her broadband access quality.
Is the Connectivity Just Free?
At certain time the connectivity is free. For instance, when someone signs up, he or she gets 30 minutes free airtime.
That is after first registration. Going forward, it is just N100 per hour and they are assured of maximum, unlimited internet access.
So, there is a free access to what we are doing. We want to bring change in the system; open up the gate for Nigerians to have access to the gateway to the world, seamlessly.
That is the motivation to stimulate even others that lack interest or have lost confidence in the system.
We just won WiFi Company of the year award and that was because research conducted showed we have the fastest internet gateway facilitating platform in Lagos.
Tackling Infrastructural Challenges
We collaborate. There is what I called the Broadband Infrastructure Ecosystem, which will make the broadband development in Nigeria to be effective.
I had at different fora shared story of how this project kicked off. I found it difficult to see who would believe in the project until I met a partner who was managing director of a bank then.
Meanwhile, I had met several potential investors who discouraged me, but I did not give up.
So, when I got to him, the first thing he told me was if fail to convince him in two minutes, then I have lost his interest.
He has a view that an idea that cannot hit someone in two minutes is no good idea. Well, I think I was able to hit him in two minutes and the next question he asked was how do we move?
From there we started working together. As the project progressed we discovered that we cannot get there without collaboration.
So, we collaborate with a lot of operators like Visafone, WaveTek, MainOne Cable Company, to deliver IT broadband.
We also go into partnership with venue owners, restaurants, malls, hotels; it is a collaborative things. If we do not build the ecosystem, broadband development cannot work.
I do not think we can go far without the ecosystem. However, we are the centre of that ecosystem.
Optimism and the Future of the Ecosystem
I am very sure that the operators are optimistic and ready to deliver the bandwidths to the last mile users.
So, I am sure we are on the right track when we embraced the ecosystem composition. We have to have to look at it from the angle of the number; that is the users. If the number is there why not go for collaboration.
Assisting Mobile Entrepreneurs
An average Nigerian is a gifted entrepreneur. We can do more when the internet is good. For instance, if you are moving from one spot to another, probably for business meetings, engagements or to cement partnerships, with speed internet connectivity in place, you can download, upload voice, data or video at any of the hotspots.
That will mean a huge success and progress for the entrepreneurs. Imagine when someone has no office, yet he does business online.
That is what infrastructure does; impacting and empowering lives. The benefits cannot be over emphasized.
Government’s Agenda for Broadband Development In Nigeria
I think from what the Minister of Communications, Mrs. Omobola Johnson told IT stakeholders recently; the Government is doing its best to address the challenges.
She is doing a lot and needs the support of industry players. Remember, it cannot be a perfect system in the beginning.
Yes, with few people who have access to the service offered in the country are not getting value for their money, but with the ecosystem I so much believe in we can always get to the right destination.
We have several players coming into the market, Nigeria should just wait, things will only get better.
Just like I said earlier, this project of several hotspots are designed after the original vision of the Federal Government of “Internet for everyone.
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.”
FG Offers to Support TStv to Relaunch with Pay per View Model
National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has pledged to give necessary support to TStv Africa as the indigenous digital satellite TV service begins full operation with pay per view model on October 1, 2020.
Professor Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of NBC, made the promise on Monday in Abuja when the management team of TStv paid him an official visit.
The visit was to inform him of the company‘s readiness to commence full operation across the country on October 1.
TStv Africa is a wholly-owned Nigerian innovative multi-channel outfit which had promised to operate a pay per view model for the benefit of Nigerians.
Idachaba said: “We promise on our side that we will continue to support you.
“At this time, I think that the major issue confronting the PayTv sector is the area of giving Nigerians option of deregulating purchasing capacity in terms of pay as you go concept.
“We believe this will give you the visibility if you remain committed to the idea.
“We welcome that option and wish that it serves as a stimulant and as a progressive index for other pay-TV operators to adopt.
“Some of them have come up with a lot of excuses why pay per view is difficult and why it is not doable.
“We want you to be the galvaniser to prove the naysayers wrong that this is doable in the interest of Nigerians.
“Once you begin and you make a success of it through increased subscription base, we are sure that others will be drawn into it as it happened in the telecommunication sector.”
Idachaba said the NBC is committed to promoting local participation in the nation’s broadcasting industry, especially in the pay-TV sector, to create jobs and provide diversity for Nigerians.
He acknowledged the challenges TStv had faced over the years and encouraged the company to remain focused.
“We are aware that it has been very challenging for you.
“All over the world dominant players will always want to remain in a dominant position.
” Those who want to survive will also have to take the courage to do so,” he said.
The Acting Director-General, however, admonished the firm to refrain from any activity that would give Nigeria a bad name.
“If you are acquiring rights, you must make sure that your rights are legitimately acquired.
“You must make sure you follow the rules of engagement strictly, study the broadcasting code strictly to have a robust future ahead of you,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Echefu Bright, managing director and CEO of TStv, said they were at the NBC to seek the commission’s support to have a peaceful roll out on October 1.
He said the outfit also visited the NBC to officially present samples of its decoders to the commission and thank the management for its support.
Bright gave an assurance that the novel pay per view concept was sacrosanct.
“The model is what we have experimented and implemented and it works and we have done everything we need to do for it Nigerians to benefit.
“Beyond that, we have enough boxes on ground that will cover the entire country,” he said.
Bright also gave an assurance that with the Oct.1 roll out, every part of the country would be covered.
“We currently have a dealership in virtually every state in Nigeria and as I speak to you now our goods are already with them for October 1 rollout. The coverage from day one will be across Nigeria,”
On sports products, he said the firm has Laliga as well as the FA Cup and Euro Cup 2021 rights.
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