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ICAF Says NCC, Operators Need Stakeholders’ Support for Improved QoS

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Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) has advocated the need for stakeholders at the federal, state and local levels, both in public and private sectors, to work with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and  Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to collectively contribute towards improving the Quality of Service (QoS) delivery by MNOs in the country.

ICAF Says NCC, Operators Need Stakeholders' Support for Improved QoS

L-R: Hafsat Lawal, Head, Consumer Protection and Policy Development, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Igho Majemite, Chairman, Industry Consuemr Advisory Forum (ICAF) and Aliyu Ibrahim, Head, Consumer Protection and Advocacy, NCC, during the ICAF first quarter meeting in Abuja.

The advocacy group stated this during a presentation made at its first quarter 2020 meeting held in Abuja.

At every meeting of ICAF, a corporate member is required to make a presentation about a topical issue in the sector.

At this meeting, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) made the presentation focused on challenges of quality of service delivery in telecoms sector.

In the presentation, ICAF noted that the challenge of poor QoS in the telecom industry is an issue that requires collaborative efforts of the National Assembly as well as state and local governments, to tackle.

Explaining further, ICAF stated that the collaboration is both urgent and necessary because telecoms has long migrated from being a mere enabler of communication, to an industry that has become widely acknowledged as being the most important enabler of socio-economic activities in contemporary society.

The advocacy body said as with every other sector of the economy, the telecommunications sector has its own peculiar challenges that impact on the ability of telecoms operators to deliver seamless services to customers.

ICAF listed the challenges to include infrastructure damage, bombed sites due to insurgent activities, illegal site lock-outs, unstable power supply and prolonged power outage, denial of statutory permits for infrastructure roll-out, high cost of Right of Way (RoW), and use of substandard devices by the consumers, among others.

Elaborating further, ICAF presentation indexed a situation where telecommunications operators continue to suffer various forms of infrastructure damage across the country, and noted that such a challenge usually leads to sudden outages or poor QoS.

ICAF recalled that at the onset of the insurgency in the North-East region, operators were also at the receiving end of the destruction that was visited on the infrastructure in the region. He cited Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states as areas where hundreds of BTS sites were either bombed or affected due to dependence on a bombed site. Such vandalism resulted in loss of coverage in so many places including Dikwa, Gamboru, Monguno, Bama, Konduga and Damaturu.

“Operators have been able to restore a lot of these sites, while restoration at other facilities are still pending due to security concerns. In some cases those that were restored have been bombed again, but efforts are currently ongoing in collaboration with agencies in the security services and state governments, to secure sites,” ICAF noted in the presentation. It also assured participants that “with these efforts it is hoped that there will be noticeable improvement in coverage, leading to reduced dropped calls in the affected areas.”

The presentation further explained that the failure of some governmental authorities and their subsidiary agencies to grant the statutory approvals required by operators to build more sites is another problem. ICAF affirmed that “as the existing infrastructure get to full capacity, operators need to build more facilities to accommodate excess call, SMS, data and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) traffic. Unfortunately, in the past seven years, the FCT Administration, in particular, has not granted approvals for telecommunications sites to be built in the Territory.”

On vandalism and theft, the ICAF presentation observed that this has been a recurring experience of the operators as unknown hoodlums increasingly break into sites, kill or injure the guard on duty and cart away valuable equipment such as the power generating sets, base transceiver station (BTS) equipment and air conditioners among other facilities. It said these criminal activities immediately lead to network outages in the area covered by facilities that suffered vandalism.

ICAF, however, noted that no operator desires to have poor service delivery because of the increased competition that has been engendered by the telecoms regulator.

According to ICAF, “we are in a highly competitive market, where we have multiple players and we should understand that there is no operator that wants to have downtime on its network as that can lead to loss of subscribers to rival operators. The NCC has heightened this with the introduction of the Mobile Number Portability, which makes it easier for a subscriber that is not satisfied with his or current network in terms of service delivery to migrate to other preferred network.”

The presentation further said: “This means if there is any challenge that is affecting any operator’s ability to deliver better experience to its numerous customers, the logical thing is for that operator to take steps to address the challenge so that it will be able to retain its customers. But most of these challenges are far beyond what operators can control. The NCC has been doing a lot to get the buy-in of all relevant stakeholders to address some these challenges, but not much inroad has been recorded because not all stakeholders in the ecosystem are fully supporting the regulator’s efforts at addressing these issues in order to ensure that telecom consumers get top-notched services.”

Proffering solutions to the challenges, ICAF said while the regulator has been taking QoS measurements and sanctioning the erring operators, it must also be acknowledged that it has been making efforts toward addressing all the identified challenges faced by the operators in order to improve service delivery on the networks to telecoms consumers.

“However, if we all agree that telecoms is central to our socio-economic development, then the NCC’s efforts need to be supported by all stakeholders, especially the National Assembly through the passage of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) Bill and; we at ICAF also urge the state governors to be considerate about policy measures in order to encourage massive deployment of telecoms infrastructure in their states, as being championed by the NCC,” the advocacy group recommended in the  presentation.

 


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Huawei Launches Mondia Pay on Huawei Mobile Services in Nigeria, Others

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Huawei, in cooperation with digital payment entity, Mondia Pay, now offers Direct Carrier Billing service (DCB), for seamless, contactless payments for users in the MEA region through Huawei Mobile Services (HMS).

Mondia Pay is a leader in the digital payment space and provides a simple, fast and secure way for consumers to pay for services using their mobile phone.

Huawei has been working closely with Mondia Pay, the MEA region’s top digital payments fintech company, as part of its commitment to supporting developers in the MEA region. This strategic partnership will allow for increased DCB coverage and IAP (In-App Purchase) kit capabilities for global developers.

As a result, Huawei and smartphone HONOR users in almost 20 countries including, Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Madagascar, Liberia, and Botswana, will be able to make cashless payments securely without the need for bank cards by downloading the app from Huawei’s Application Store, AppGallery. In addition, Mondia Pay will also market Huawei’s games content in Egypt.

The number of mobile internet subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa has quadrupled since the start of 2010 (World Bank Data) and, for many consumers, it’s the only way they can get online. With low credit card penetration rates in most markets, contactless, online payment solutions can reach wider audiences looking to consume digital content.

“This new partnership with Huawei is an endorsement of Mondia Pay’s industry expertise and deep routed knowledge of Africa. Customers across the continent will benefit from our fully integrated digital payment technology to make frictionless payments in a fast, safe and secure manner. We also support the natural progression towards cashless societies, fast-tracked by current affairs such as COVID-19,” said Simon Rahmann, CEO Mondia Pay.

Mondia Pay is available on Huawei’s AppGallery as direct carrier billing and e-wallet services to facilitate online consumer payments. Huawei’s AppGallery allows users to explore the best local and global apps.

Adam Xiao, Managing Director, HMS and Consumer Cloud Service for Huawei Consumer Business Group MEA, said: “We welcome the opportunity to partner with Mondia Pay to provide our users across the MEA region with even more payment options.

Mondia Pay allows for contactless payment without the need for bank cards in a safe and secure manner that protects the privacy of users. This partnership is part of Huawei’s ongoing commitment to make it easier for local and global developers to offer their services to millions more people in the MEA region.”


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Sub-Saharan Africa 5G Connections to Reach 18m by 2025 – Report

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Mobile technologies and services are expected to significantly increase in Sub-Saharan Africa, with over 137 million new mobile subscribers forecast to be added in the region by 2025.

An estimated 27% (165 million) of total mobile connections will be made on 4G and 3% (18.4 million) on 5G, by this period.

This is according to the latest “Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2020” research report released by the GSM Association (GSMA) to coincide with the GSMA Thrive Africa virtual event.

It consists of an in-depth study that explores the latest data, forecasts and mobile trends for the region.

According to the report, mobile-enabled platforms and services will increasingly disrupt traditional value chains in Sub-Saharan Africa, as it remains the fastest-growing mobile region globally, with 477 million mobile subscribers at the end of 2019.

The additional 137 million subscribers expected over the next five years will take the total mobile subscriber base to just over 614 million, representing around half the population in the region and a CAGR growth rate of 4.3%.

While spectrum availability will promote strong growth in 4G and 5G connectivity over the next few years, 3G mobile connections will continue to dominate the region, says the GSMA.

The report calculates the strong growth in mobile connectivity across Sub-Saharan Africa will generate around $184 billion in economic value contributed to the region’s GDP by 2024.

“The findings from our Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa report clearly show the importance and value of digital connectivity,” says Akinwale Goodluck, head of Africa, GSMA.

“Realising the full potential of a progressive digital future requires an informed policy debate. Governments and policymakers should implement policies to enhance access to connectivity and drive investment in more resilient digital infrastructure for the future.

This is crucial to reactivating the region’s economy post-COVID-19 despite the sizable contribution mobile technologies and services generated in 2019, growing at 9% of regional GDP.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the digital landscape around the world, and the mobile industry in Sub-Saharan Africa has largely risen to the challenge of keeping individuals and businesses connected during the pandemic, despite changes in data consumption patterns, the report points out.

However, with nearly 800 million people in the region still not connected to the mobile Internet, it has never been more urgent to close the digital divide, it advises.

Mobile money services, infrastructure and mobile-based content/services, as well as the application of mobile big data for social good, are expected to record the highest rise in the next five years, notes the report.

“The 2020s will see strong growth in the number of Africans connected to mobile broadband. As 4G and 5G grow together throughout the decade to come, spectrum preparation can drive cost-efficiency and promote growth,” according to the GSMA.

“Efficient and effective management of spectrum is also key to maximise the opportunities that mobile connectivity can bring to society. Making sure the required spectrum resources are available under the right conditions will lower broadband costs, increase coverage and boost connectivity.”

In 2018, mobile technologies and services supported almost 3.5 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with almost $15.6 billion raised through taxation, according a previous report.

As countries increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services, this is expected to significantly boost the informal economy, which accounts for a large part of the mobile ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa, notes the GMSA.

Nigeria and Ethiopia will record the fastest growth rates of mobile connectivity, between now and 2025, growing at 19% and 11% respectively, it adds.


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Ndukwe Reveals Secret of MTN’s Dominance Of Nigeria’s Telecoms Space

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Dr Ernest Ndukwe, Erstwhile Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has been speaking on why foremost telecommunications services provider, MTN, has continued to dominate the Nigerian telecom space like a colossus.

Ndukwe, speaking on Tuesday as a guest at the Virtual Digital Africa VIP Leadership Series powered by Digital Africa, organisers of the annual Digital Africa Conference & Exhibitions, noted that three factors – strong financial position, good management and discipline in terms of managing resources, separate MTN from the rest of the pack.

“I think it is important to say that MTN is a particularly disciplined company right from its roots; it has always been a well-run organization. It has not had the board squabbles of its competitions. Since the first board of MTN (Nigeria), some of the board members just retired last year (2019). Meanwhile, their competitions have had various owners, various quarrels, and various issues,” he said.

Ndukwe, who is the Chairman of MTN Nigeria Board, said that nobody can be blamed for this position as the way organisations manage their affairs translates to the kind of position they occupy in the business environment.

“One thing that people don’t know also is that for the first five years of existence of MTN in Nigeria, it did not pay dividends to its shareholders. They recognized the importance of scale and were pumping in all the earnings, all the profits into building networks. They started building their own microwave links; they started building their own fibre optic links all across the country because it’s a matter of planning.

“Let it be said that technology changes, the best company today might not be the best company tomorrow. A few years ago, Facebook was not on the reckoning but today, is a much bigger company. People might not make it in terms of telecommunications service delivery because in certain countries, there is actually a certain number after which the market gets saturated. There are opportunities in the technology space; all that is needed is for operators to discover them and leverage.

“When Zoom started, no person knew it was going to scale to the level it has now reached; thanks to Coronavirus. People should continue to look for opportunities and niche markets and go there because that’s where they can scale. There are many companies that are doing very well in the financial technology space in the country too.”

Dr. Ndukwe also talked about NITEL, 5G, the Stock Market, companies he admires in Nigeria and the concept of a single African Telecoms network.


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