\Sunday Gbenjo is the managing director of Totaltelecoms Solutions Limited with over two decade experience in the telecom industry. Gbenjo has worked with the Nigeria Naval Dockyard, Sam Telecommunications, Briscoe Telecoms and has attended various international and local seminars and exhibitions. He spoke to chike onwuegbuchi about issues service delivery in telecom space among others.
The solution is so simple; remember it is more security inclined. If you deploy the equipment, let us say at a bank with 10 to 15 branches in Lagos and outside Lagos, whenever there is a crisis in any of the banks, all they need do is press a button. Once the button is pressed, the emergency alert system would be transferred to the headquarters either in Lagos or Abuja and everybody will know that branch ABC located on Enugu Road is having a problem. It ensures that the law enforcement agents are quickly brought into the scene not only that, all the necessary information the law enforcement agents need to arrest the situation would be available.
Now the system has been modified to show pictures of what is happening at the. In our case, distance is no barrier, which means that if you want to monitor a location in Kano or Abakaliki and the headquarters which happens to be the monitoring room is in Lagos, you can easily do it. Not only that, you have the benefit of listening to all conversations at the troubled spot. Day in day out, we keep upgrading it at the requirement of individuals or corporate organizations by customizing it into what they need. Most of these things work with wireless distribution and all that is needed is small equipment.
Competing with Other Tracking Systems
The market is so big to the extent that one technology complements another technology. You will find out that where our system is needed, GSM tracking system might not be the suitable option. We still see ourselves as contemporaries within the IT sector. For example, we have a tracking system that can make use of Global System for Mobile communications, Sim cards, likewise there are some tracking units they have which make use of Radio Frequency (RF) signals. It is a matter of symbiotic relationship. The market is huge, where we are talking about a population of 140 million or more people. There is sufficient room to accommodate whatever anybody is bringing into the market, it a matter of one trying to pitch a tent in the market. I might decide that my technology should be for the banks and if the banks are satisfied with my product, they will key into it. Someone else might say he wants to address construction companies as his first point of call in the tracking business. Nigeria has a huge market for whatever anyone wants to offer, instead of competing with one another we can come under an umbrella, exchange ideas like what is happening with the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (Atcon). If someone comes to our company requesting for a solution we do not have, we should be free to refer the person to the company which specializes in the solution.
Managing Different Authorized Dealership
Apart from Motorola, we are an authorized dealer to Codan, we are also an authorized dealer of Tramingo tracking system. We are currently working with about 10 to 12 agencies under the United Nations. An agency might request for tracking unit while another might request for Codan radio equipment. It is a matter of giving you what you requested for, and managing them is not so difficult. It is about creating separate units that will handle each of the products. We have well trained engineers in data transfer equipment even up to factory level on Motorola equipment and Tramingo. Now we are going into surveillance radar system whereby we bring in what is called City Watch. I can be at Victoria Island and still watch what is going on in different parts of Lagos to ensure that security is provided for the rich, poor and everyone on the street. It is a matter of how the company is designed and how each of the units is put together.
Support for these Products and Solution
Any engineering firm either mechanical or telecom that wants to see beyond today must think about its product and what package it has in place for after-sale services. For instance, for Motorola products, before you are granted agency rights, they will ensure that you have competent engineers who have been well trained. Periodically, it is not a one-off training; it is a thing we do every six months. We also send them abroad for further training. All our equipment carries one to two years warranty and with that you should have adequate support otherwise you will keep changing equipment which might not be good for the business. At Totaltelecoms Solutions, after-sales service is our watch word. Most of the profit margin are from after-sales service so if we do not have competent engineers, the chances of we being efficient is not there. This time around time is money and no good end user will want to experience down time. Ours is to ensure that the down time of any equipment is minimal. Our after-sales service is valid and robust and we do not compromise standards.
Totaltelecom Solutions and Motorola
Totaltelecoms Solutions came into being about seven and a half years ago and right from inception, we have had a relationship with Motorola. Today as I am talking to you, we are ‘one tier representative in-country’ which means it is a total package. Total package comprises of marketing, integration, installation and consultancy. Before a company would be nominated to stand in for Motorola, it must have been well tutored and trained because what we do here locally is exactly what you get either in Chicago, Israel or wherever that kind of service is offered by Motorola. Apart from the Motorola representative that people know us with, we are also into system integration, bringing in new equipment, putting them together using our knowledge of engineering so that at the end of the day when Motorola sees some of the output of some of their products, they are amazed. This has happened several times. But you will find out that engineering in a global village now is more than doing jobs in the straight jacket the way it was brought from Chicago. Customers are becoming more and more sophisticated than what the manufacturers must have input into the system. It is now our obligation to ensure that we meet up with that challenge by adding extra value to customers.
By February next year, we will open our Abuja office. We have about 30 dealers in Abuja who act as back- ups when we are not there. What we did was to train these selected dealers to position them to be able to offer after sale support our products they sale. We also have a liaison office in Port Harcourt which takes care of the South-South and South-East zones. Most of the jobs we do is unlike the GSM selling outlets where people have to see you. Trunking projects are up to about 100 to 120 million at a go, you will have to dialogue with customers, it takes time before they even put pen on paper and it is not something that happens every now and then. The equipment we deal in is more of safety, security, and industrial equipment; it is not something you can just pick from the street. We have to ensure that the organization we are working with has the necessary government regulatory approval documents. We have to check if you have the frequency license, if not we will have to link them with the Ministry of communication to ensure that the governmental aspect of the transaction is done before they can get back to us for deployment of the solution or products.
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.
Why Businesses Should Take a Long-term Approach to People, Product, and Customers
By Andrew Bourne, Region Manager, Africa, Zoho Corporation,
Business success is perceived differently today. Buzzwords like maximization, venture-backed, growth hacking, and well-conceived exit strategies (like IPOs or acquisitions) define entrepreneurial success in the current age. In a mad rush to show high quarter-on-quarter growth rates, corporate leaders have forgotten that the true value of a business is how long it stays relevant in the market and instead focus solely on transient growth spurts even if they cost profits.
Any business, no matter how big its initial success, needs to take a long-term approach if it’s to avoid being one of history’s almost-rans. This applies to every aspect of the business, including, people, products, and customers.
Invest in People
When you are a new company working on developing deep tech, discovering talent and retaining them is a challenge. Try to create and slowly nurture a pool of capable workers who will gain domain expertise over time. At Zoho, in order to sustain our long-term R&D efforts, we initially kept the teams small and worked with people who were committed to learn and understand the domain.
Patience is the key when you cultivate talent in-house. As people refine their skills and gain deeper domain knowledge, they gradually bring their learning to the business and build a solid offering that will stand the test of time. Ultimately, it’s the culture of experimental learning that you build which keeps you going and also motivates people to stick around for the long haul.
Build a product that can pivot and adapt
Equally important is to take a long-term approach to your product. You might be selling something simple today, but you need to be able to build on that. Take Amazon, for example. It started out selling books and gradually built out to become a trillion-dollar company. It hasn’t just focused on e-commerce either. Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud-computing division, keeps more than 40% of the internet up and running.
The lesson here is that long-term thinking isn’t just about having a product plan and sticking to it. It’s also about adapting to any future opportunities that present themselves. Whatever sector you operate in today, it will see disruptions sooner or later. If you can adapt to those changes, or find new opportunities in other sectors, you will be better placed for continued success than your competitors.
Keep up with customer expectations
Finally, you need to take a long-term approach to your customers. If you are constantly gaining new customers but not retaining them, you’re unlikely to see real success. Returning customers routinely spend more money on brands they’re loyal to. People are also more likely to recommend others to businesses they have had a good experience with. Simply put, it just makes business sense.
But taking a long-term focus with your customers isn’t just about the direct touch-points you have with them. Everything, including the software solutions you use, should have the customer at heart. For example, a unified tool which allows you to instantly see every interaction a customer’s had with your business (be it via voice, email, or chat), will put you in a much better position to serve them than trying to work with several different products.
Taking this long-term approach might feel overwhelming initially, but it’s much more likely to pay off than simply trying to survive from quarter to quarter. After all true success is built over time.
CBN Pulls Rate Cut Trigger, King Dollar Returns
By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,
In a move that caught investors off-guard this week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) slashed interest rates by 100 basis points bringing the MPR to 11.5%. Given how inflation has been above target since 2015, rates were expected to remain unchanged for the rest of 2020 and possibly early 2021.
The question on the mind of many is whether the rate cut will achieve the desired effect by stimulating consumption and economic growth? Ongoing border closures and disruptions created by COVID-19 have pushed inflation to levels not seen since March 2018 above 13.20% while a drop in the production and price of Oil continues to rub salt into the wound. While looser monetary policy could support growth, it may come at the cost of rising inflation and weaker Naira.
Over the past few months, central banks across the globe have deployed unprecedented measures to defend their respective economies against the coronavirus menace. However, fiscal policy has been identified as the sharper tool with governments across the world providing a critical lifeline to keep the wheels of their respective economies rolling.
Outside of Nigeria, King Dollar made a return by appreciating against every single G10 currency. In times of uncertainty, everyone wants a juicy piece of the world’s most liquid currency. As coronavirus cases rise in Europe and other parts of the world, the flight to safety is likely to boost appetite for the Dollar. This is bad news for many emerging markets currencies, especially those with high Dollar-denominated debt.
On the commodity side, Oil prices remain heavily influenced by demand-side factors and the state of the global economy. Prices are likely to remain stuck around the $40 regions in the near term, especially If another round of possible lockdowns hit Oil demand. Looking at the technicals, WTI Crude is under pressure on the daily charts. If prices are unable to break away from the sticky $40 regions, the next key point of interest remains around $38. A weekly close above $41.50 could pave a path towards $43.
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