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ISPs Seek Government Support, Task ATCON for More Advocacy

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In a bid to ensure sustainable growth in its sector, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) stakeholders have called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to increase governmental support on its sector as over 568 ISP licensees have gone inactive.

This call was made during the panel session at the Telecoms Sector Sustainability Forum organized by Business Remarks media held on Thursday, July 7 2022 in Lagos State.

Expressing his views, Mr Micheal Ayoade, Chief Executive Officier of Dotmac Technologies, tasked ATCON for more advocacy as regards issues militating against their survival and growth in the industry.

According to Ayoade, ISPs are charged a higher rate than others for Right of Way in most states. Using Lagos State as an example, he said license operators pay a cheaper rate compared to ISPs, who are charged ten times more than the agreed N145 per meter rate linear for RoW.

He said ISPs lack unified backup to fight their cause and push for the agreed rate from the state government and taxes demanded by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Speaking on improving quality of service through laying of fibres and cables, Ayoade emphasized that without ATCON speaking for them in the industry, the cost overhead carried by individual company for survival will eventually lead to their untimely death.

“Collaborations among ISPs is important but not very straightforward because each Internet Service Providers determine their price structure through cost incurred, keeping manpower and other business risks”.

On his part, Mr Tony Emoekpere, Managing Director for MangoNet Integrated Technologies said the ISPs sub-sector is too fragmented to scale up. He berated the fact that ISPs players are close to 1000 in number.

Emoekpere said this shows that indigenous players do not understand the market terrain.

“Local content is a real challenge. The telecommunications business is a long-time investment which requires continuous investment and pressure to upgrade infrastructure.

“You don’t have to own all the infrastructures to provide service. In Orlando, there are just three major ISPs. Foreign companies are taking advantage of this market because they understand the value of collaboration with key players and their area of strength”.

Sharing views Ayoade, FiberOne Broadband Head of Sales and Marketing, Mr Kehinde Joda stated that multiple taxations, high cost of RoW, and operating in silos kill small businesses in the ISPs sub-sector.

While charging the umbrella body, ATCON on more advocacy, Joda said the sub-sector lacks necessary support. There are different tiers of the banking system such as some finance houses and microfinance banks supporting other industries.

Speaking further during the panel session, he said although there is excess capacity landing at the sea shores, there is a need for last-mile internet connectivity in the hinterlands. He also decried the high cost of fuel, vandalism, activities of street thugs, and mobile network operators disruption as part of the challenges ISPs face.

“There will be healthy competition, pricing and collaborations if the Nigerian Communications Commission can make the right policies for ISPs sustainability”, Joda noted.

Also eStream Networks CEO, Mr Muyiwa Ogungboye, represented by Mr Martins Akingba berated the lack of governmental support for the ISPs sub-sector in the telecommunications industry.

He highlighted that the government has not fulfilled its part towards ISPs’ sub-sector growth and sustainability. He, therefore, owns the present existence of ISPs to the resilience and ingenuity of businessmen in Nigeria.

In his words, “there is a certain level of investment needed to be made by the government, that was never made. The government have done nothing to sustain this industry. There is no National Network Backbone for the ISPs to build on.

Akingba noted that the National Infrastructure was built by the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) who are private business owners.

Moreso, the eStream Boss said it is quite unfortunate that the market takes advantage of the sub-sector because it is too fragmented. NCC needs to step in for ISPs’ growth.

In addition, he stressed the struggle with human capital flight and the huge brain drain in the industry.

He, therefore, urged others to rethink their business models, innovate and become more agile for sustainability and profitability unless they will be forced out of business by the activities of the MNOs.

Akingba further tasked the ISPs to expand into the West African coast, leverage on the opportunities made available to them and also think of sustainability strategies for growth.

WTES Projects Limited Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mr Chidi Ajuzie said the ISPs are struggling because of the regulatory and licensing framework. According to him communities ISPs cannot survive this terrain.

“ISPs in the United States and other countries survive because there is a universal player and universal infrastructure environment in existence. NCC, the government and others concerned need to build a National Uniform Infrastructure”.

He urged ISPs players to become more familiar with industry trends and initiatives both locally and globally to sustain their growth.

Ajuzie also harps on collaboration with players who already own infrastructures for efficiency and faster growth.

ipNX CEO, Segun Okuneye stated that the regulator, NCC needs to watch and support the industry sub-sector to ensure its survival in terms of infrastructures, pricing and creating enabling environment.

“NCC have an obligation to ensure its licensees survival irrespective of the activities of the MNOs. It is sad that states government are missing it when they focused only on increasing Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) because when they forced the ISPs out of business, unfortunately unemployment increase, taxes unpaid and so many things lost.”

Okuneye also advised ISPs to invest wisely and leverage of other backbone to grow and survive.

Equinoxcore Technology CEO, Mr Lanre Olanrewaju lamented the huge decline in turnover, subscriber base, challenges the struggle ISP face and the ever-changing policies.

In her opening speech, the convener of the Forum and Managing Editor of Business Remarks, Mrs. Bukola Olanrewaju said: “Over the years, studies have shown that the licence renewal rate of ISPs in Nigeria continues to drop, even as others take up the licence. In view of the critical need for internet connectivity for the digital economy and for mass digitalisation of Nigeria, the role of ISPs is central also for uptake of internet of things (IoT).”

Internet Service Providers in the Nigerian telecommunications industry have been struggling to stay afloat due to challenges confronting their market to remain in business, expand operations and post profit every financial year. In line with the above, findings also showed that most of the ISPs who served the enterprise market lost revenue during the pandemic because their services were cancelled or suspended, despite procuring wholesale capacity,” she noted.

The event enjoyed the sponsorship and participation of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Skymax Integrated Network Limited, IPNX, eStream Networks, WTES Projects Limited, MangoNet Integrated Technologies, FibreOne Broadband, Dotmac Technologies, ICSL, NITDA

P) stakeholders have called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to increase governmental support on its sector as over 568 ISP licensees have gone inactive.

This call was made during the panel session at the Telecoms Sector Sustainability Forum organized by Business Remarks media held on Thursday, July 7 2022 in Lagos State.

Expressing his views, Mr Micheal Ayoade, Chief Executive Officier of Dotmac Technologies, tasked ATCON for more advocacy as regards issues militating against their survival and growth in the industry.

According to Ayoade, ISPs are charged a higher rate than others for Right of Way in most states. Using Lagos State as an example, he said license operators pay a cheaper rate compared to ISPs, who are charged ten times more than the agreed N145 per meter rate linear for RoW.

He said ISPs lack unified backup to fight their cause and push for the agreed rate from the state government and taxes demanded by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Speaking on improving quality of service through laying of fibres and cables, Ayoade emphasized that without ATCON speaking for them in the industry, the cost overhead carried by individual company for survival will eventually lead to their untimely death.

“Collaborations among ISPs is important but not very straightforward because each Internet Service Providers determine their price structure through cost incurred, keeping manpower and other business risks”.

On his part, Mr Tony Emoekpere, Managing Director for MangoNet Integrated Technologies said the ISPs sub-sector is too fragmented to scale up. He berated the fact that ISPs players are close to 1000 in number.

Emoekpere said this shows that indigenous players do not understand the market terrain.

“Local content is a real challenge. The telecommunications business is a long-time investment which requires continuous investment and pressure to upgrade infrastructure.

“You don’t have to own all the infrastructures to provide service. In Orlando, there are just three major ISPs. Foreign companies are taking advantage of this market because they understand the value of collaboration with key players and their area of strength”.

Sharing views Ayoade, FiberOne Broadband Head of Sales and Marketing, Mr Kehinde Joda stated that multiple taxations, high cost of RoW, and operating in silos kill small businesses in the ISPs sub-sector.

While charging the umbrella body, ATCON on more advocacy, Joda said the sub-sector lacks necessary support. There are different tiers of the banking system such as some finance houses and microfinance banks supporting other industries.

Speaking further during the panel session, he said although there is excess capacity landing at the sea shores, there is a need for last-mile internet connectivity in the hinterlands. He also decried the high cost of fuel, vandalism, activities of street thugs, and mobile network operators disruption as part of the challenges ISPs face.

“There will be healthy competition, pricing and collaborations if the Nigerian Communications Commission can make the right policies for ISPs sustainability”, Joda noted.

Also eStream Networks CEO, Mr Muyiwa Ogungboye, represented by Mr Martins Akingba berated the lack of governmental support for the ISPs sub-sector in the telecommunications industry.

He highlighted that the government has not fulfilled its part towards ISPs’ sub-sector growth and sustainability. He, therefore, owns the present existence of ISPs to the resilience and ingenuity of businessmen in Nigeria.

In his words, “there is a certain level of investment needed to be made by the government, that was never made. The government have done nothing to sustain this industry. There is no National Network Backbone for the ISPs to build on.

Akingba noted that the National Infrastructure was built by the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) who are private business owners.

Moreso, the eStream Boss said it is quite unfortunate that the market takes advantage of the sub-sector because it is too fragmented. NCC needs to step in for ISPs’ growth.

In addition, he stressed the struggle with human capital flight and the huge brain drain in the industry.

He, therefore, urged others to rethink their business models, innovate and become more agile for sustainability and profitability unless they will be forced out of business by the activities of the MNOs.

Akingba further tasked the ISPs to expand into the West African coast, leverage on the opportunities made available to them and also think of sustainability strategies for growth.

WTES Projects Limited Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mr Chidi Ajuzie said the ISPs are struggling because of the regulatory and licensing framework. According to him communities ISPs cannot survive this terrain.

“ISPs in the United States and other countries survive because there is a universal player and universal infrastructure environment in existence. NCC, the government and others concerned need to build a National Uniform Infrastructure”.

He urged ISPs players to become more familiar with industry trends and initiatives both locally and globally to sustain their growth.

Ajuzie also harps on collaboration with players who already own infrastructures for efficiency and faster growth.

ipNX CEO, Segun Okuneye stated that the regulator, NCC needs to watch and support the industry sub-sector to ensure its survival in terms of infrastructures, pricing and creating enabling environment.

“NCC have an obligation to ensure its licensees survival irrespective of the activities of the MNOs. It is sad that states government are missing it when they focused only on increasing Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) because when they forced the ISPs out of business, unfortunately unemployment increase, taxes unpaid and so many things lost.”

Okuneye also advised ISPs to invest wisely and leverage of other backbone to grow and survive.

Equinoxcore Technology CEO, Mr Lanre Olanrewaju lamented the huge decline in turnover, subscriber base, challenges the struggle ISP face and the ever-changing policies.

In her opening speech, the convener of the Forum and Managing Editor of Business Remarks, Mrs. Bukola Olanrewaju said: “Over the years, studies have shown that the licence renewal rate of ISPs in Nigeria continues to drop, even as others take up the licence. In view of the critical need for internet connectivity for the digital economy and for mass digitalisation of Nigeria, the role of ISPs is central also for uptake of internet of things (IoT).”

Internet Service Providers in the Nigerian telecommunications industry have been struggling to stay afloat due to challenges confronting their market to remain in business, expand operations and post profit every financial year. In line with the above, findings also showed that most of the ISPs who served the enterprise market lost revenue during the pandemic because their services were cancelled or suspended, despite procuring wholesale capacity,” she noted.

The event enjoyed the sponsorship and participation of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Skymax Integrated Network Limited, IPNX, eStream Networks, WTES Projects Limited, MangoNet Integrated Technologies, FibreOne Broadband, Dotmac Technologies, ICSL, NITDA


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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MTN Pays $3.3Bn Tax across 19 Markets in 2023

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MTN Group recently released financial tax report for 2023 revealed that the group paid $3.3 billion in tax contributions across 19 markets.

MTN Pays $3.3Bn Tax across 19 Markets in 2023

This is coming as the company inches closer to celebrate its 30th anniversary next month.

As per ITweb reports, Tsholo Molefe, group chief financial officer, underlined that the company makes “impactful socio-economic contributions” to society through an evolving tax environment across the world and in Africa.

“These represent significant contributions to the fiscus of the jurisdictions in which we operate. These contributions are used to grow and enhance economic development in our various markets. We are very pleased to play our part in supporting Africa’s progress, and giving Africans hope, dignity and opportunity. Beyond the continent’s borders, the tax landscape continues to evolve,” said Molefe.

She acknowledged that faced with reduced fiscal revenues and the need for greater public spending to support economic activity, many African governments have sought new ways to generate revenue, among them broadening the tax base and increasing tax types and rates.

“We recognise the important role our tax contributions play in uplifting communities across our footprint. Our voluntary Tax Report is an effort to explain our tax affairs in a comprehensive and transparent way, thereby underpinning the trust of our many stakeholders,” said Molefe.

MTN’s corporate social investment is realised annually through various Corporate Social Investment (CSI) Foundations and divisions across their footprint ensuring that the Group reaches the most vulnerable, marginalized communities and members of society.

“In supporting the attainment of sustainable societies across our markets, we take seriously our responsibility to be a compliant and transparent taxpayer,” added Molefe.

She said MTN is committed to leveraging its core capabilities to enable the socio-economic development of the communities in which it operates, underpinned by the Group’s core belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern, connected life.

The mobile giant says its corporate social investment strategy aligns to this belief by focusing its core initiatives on digital jobs creation.

This, she said, allows MTN to address the digital skills shortage in Africa while simultaneously creating opportunities for economic growth through ICT-enabled programmes, including its flagship MTN Skills Academy platform.

According to the MTN Tax Report, a secondary focus area aligns to the National Priority Areas (NPA) of the respective host countries and disaster relief projects in times of crisis.

 

“Through these ICT-enabled and NPA programmes, we continue to serve and support the communities in which we operate, growing our impact year-on-year. In 2023, MTN’s generic corporate social investment totaled R220 million. This investment impacted the lives of 3.6 million members of our communities, 2.9 of which were youth, as the largest and most impacted population group across our markets,” said Molefe.

Furthermore, 126.2 million women and young girls were empowered. MTN programmes allowed young people to engage in activities to grow their knowledge, access education, learn new skills, and develop through a diverse range of uplifting activities.

Operating in 19 markets, MTN says it has tight measures in place that manages its tax affairs which are directly relevant to its shareholders and other internal and external stakeholders.

The measures, the company said, do not only mitigate risk but also ensure that society fully benefits from the economic participation of the MTN Group in their jurisdictions.


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Joe Levy Appointed CEO of Sophos as Jim Dildine is Named New CFO

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Sophos, a global leader of innovative security solutions for defeating cyberattacks, today announced that Joe Levy is now chief executive officer (CEO) of the company.

Levy has been acting CEO since Feb. 15. To drive a critical role in the execution of his strategy to shape the future of Sophos, Levy has named Jim Dildine Sophos’ new chief financial officer (CFO) and a member of his senior management team.

Levy is a nearly 30-year veteran of innovating and leading cybersecurity product development, services and companies.

During his nine-year tenure at Sophos, Levy drove the transformation of Sophos from a product-only vendor into the global cybersecurity giant it is today, including an incident response team and managed detection and response (MDR) service that defends more than 21,000 organizations worldwide.

Levy also created SophosAI and Sophos X-Ops, an operational threat intelligence unit that joins together more than 500 cross-departmental cybersecurity operators and threat intelligence experts.

Sophos X-Ops shares real-time and historical attack data with all of Sophos’ solutions, making them smarter and faster at defending customers from persistent cyberattacks.

Levy has in-depth experience working with the channel, including managed security providers (MSPs), throughout his career, which he started in the mid-1990s as a cybersecurity practitioner and product and service innovator at a value-added reseller.

As CEO, Levy plans to expand Sophos’ already strong customer base in the midmarket, which includes nearly 600,000 customers worldwide and generates more than $1.2 billion in annual revenue.

As a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions for the midmarket, Sophos has a unique ability to further scale its business and the business of its partners by helping organizations in dire need of basic and expanded defenses against opportunistic and targeted cyberattacks.

These organizations include the critical substrate, small- to mid-sized organizations that comprise the machines of the world’s economy and are just as susceptible to cyberattacks as major corporations.

In fact, the critical substrate, including smaller organizations within the classic 16 critical infrastructure verticals, are prime attacker targets, as evidenced by Sophos’ Active Adversary report and 2024 Threat Report. Both intelligence reports reveal how attackers are repeatedly abusing exposed Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) access at midmarket organizations, as well as going after them for data theft, spying, ransomware payoffs, or supply chain attacks to gain entry to bigger prey.

“When midmarket organizations – the global critical substrate – are paralyzed due to ransomware or other cyberattacks, business activities linked in our supply chains also stagnate, slowing our economy down. Operations of all sizes and shapes suffer collateral damage when dependencies in their supply chains are attacked. This can be devastating in often unpredictable ways because of the increasing complexity of how the modern industrialized global economy works,” said Levy.

“Our goal is to help more organizations in the midmarket – the estimated 99% of organizations that are below the cybersecurity poverty line – be better at detecting and disrupting inevitable cyberattacks.

“Our envisioned approach to achieving this is to work with MSPs and channel partners that can scale alongside us with our innovative critical cross domain technologies – endpoint, network, email, and cloud security – and managed services that they can resell and co-deliver.

“Cyberattacks against the midmarket could severely impact the world’s ability to function; they are relatively under-protected compared to the 1%, and Sophos is on a mission to change that.”

Levy’s leadership strategy includes adding Dildine as CFO to help Sophos reach its business goals and propel the company on its future growth trajectory. He brings exceptional operational expertise to Sophos, as well as a strong background in channel partner-based cybersecurity business.

Dildine joins Sophos most recently from cybersecurity software and services company, Imperva, where he was CFO for more than four years. Before Imperva, Dildine was CFO for Symantec’s $2.5 billion enterprise security business unit for three years. Dildine also previously held key financial leadership roles for nearly nine years at Blue Coat Systems, where Levy also served as chief technology officer.

While at Blue Coat Systems, he oversaw a dramatic growth in market value while guiding the company to a go-private transaction by Thoma Bravo, sale from Thoma Bravo to Bain Capital, and subsequent sale to Symantec for $4.6 billion in 2016. Dildine also spearheaded the acquisition and seamless integration of six security-focused companies, which were valued at more than $750 million during his tenure.

“Having worked in technology and finance for more than 30 years, it is exciting to join Sophos at this juncture, when the company is well on its way to breaking through to the next level. Everything the company has accomplished thus far is impressive, including how dedicated Sophos is to constantly be innovating its cybersecurity technology and managed security services for customers in the midmarket. Sophos is also equally committed to supporting its channel partners, MSPs, and staff around the world,” said Dildine. “I am looking forward to helping Joe accelerate growth and further position Sophos as a leader in the industry.”

“Thoma Bravo has worked with Joe through successful investments in SonicWall and Blue Coat Systems, and our relationship and experience together, coupled with his authentic style of leadership and impeccable reputation across the cybersecurity industry, make him the ideal CEO to lead this next chapter at Sophos,” said Chip Virnig, a partner at Thoma Bravo and a Sophos board member.

“We’re also excited that Jim is joining Sophos as CFO and is a member of Joe’s senior management team. We’ve worked with Joe and Jim at various companies for well over a decade, and we’re confident their combined expertise will reap big rewards for the future of Sophos.”


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ATCON Offers Solutions to Fibre Cable Cuts in Telecom Industry

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Association of Telecommunication Companies Of Nigeria (ATCON) has highlighted fibre cuts as a major stumbling block to the Nigerian telecom sector’s growth and affirmed its readiness to take strategic measures to tackle submarine fibre disruption in the country.

ATCON Offers Solutions to Fibre Cable Cuts in Telecom Industry

Tony Emoekpere, president of ATCON, at the first edition of ATCON’s Critical Conversation Breakfast Meeting held in Lagos with the theme: ‘the Direct And Indirect Cause And Impact Of Metro, Terrestrial And Submarine Fibre Disruptions (Cuts)–Short, Medium And Long Term Sustainable Solutions’, stated that, operators cannot continue to pay lip service to issues and challenges that have constituted stumbling block to the telecom sector growth.

The president recall that few months ago, there was a reported case of submarine cuts which significantly impacted Nigeria and some African countries, adding that, “The incidences of Metro, Terrestrial and Submarine Fibre Disruptions have become a recurring decimal which must be addressed by relevant agencies at all levels of government. Our members have had to pay a substantial amount of money to have all these disruptions fixed and this is impacting on their operational expenses which should not be if the perpetrators are brought to book.”

On advocacy, the president said ATCON is seeking ways going forward, adding that ducts should be built when new roads are being constructed. “There is a need to enforce and implement the provision in the Nigeria National Broadband Band Plan 2020-2025 which states that NCC should have a desk officer in each state of the Federation who is expected to be in charge of the fiber network in order to minimize Fiber cuts during roads construction,” he recommended.

The president averred that the telecom sector has been reported to contribute over 14 per cent to the nation’s GDP, adding that, the sector could have done much better if issues like fiber disruption which has constituted a threat to the manifestation of its inherent potentials, is dealt with.

Emoekpere however stressed the need for more collaboration between telecoms operators and government, with developers and road contractors to mitigate the challenges of fiber cuts.

“There must be compensation for fibre cable cuts. Training and awareness creation on the importance of fibre cable and the danger and negative impact of fibre cable cut, cannot be overemphasised. The federal government should declare telecoms assets as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI).

“Government should come up with policies like ‘Dig Once Policy’ for the implementation of fibre laying to avoid operators damaging cables of other operators during cable laying. There must be a clear database of government agencies giving approvals for road construction to enable telecom companies to have an idea of who they are dealing with as well as the need to have a status update on task responsibilities of ATCON for a follow-up of ATCON activities,” he advocated.

In the same vein, Lekan Balogun, CEO of NetAccess, said, the major causes of fibre cable cut includes Govt/Private Contractors, Man made, planning and Design and Natural causes, while stressing that, there is need for constant engagement between ATCON members, the government and developers.

Balogun proposed short, medium and long term recommendations to forestall fibre cuts, adding that the use of protective materials like metals rather than plastics will help protect the cables from unwanted cuts.

Credit: Leadership


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