Jinmi Sonuga is manager (Infrastructure Project), Business Unusual Limited. Sonuga’s experience expands to Technical Business Development & Strategy; CTO Executive Support and CTO Executive Business Management all at Vodafone UK.
He also worked as Project Manager, MainOne Cable Company; Production Engineer, Bidmine PLC; Process Improvement, SORTEX LTD; Head of Technical Sales & Program Management, MainOne Cable Company.
He led the Business Unusual team that provided consultancy assistants for the presidential committee on broadband road map for Nigeria.
Sonuga spoke to peter ugwu on a number of issues
Overview of Business Unusual
Business Unusual is into consultancy and project management practice based in the UK and Nigeria and passionate about delivering value, enhancing performance, and promoting sustainable developments by deploying a practical and hands-on approach to business challenges.
We deliver large scale infrastructure projects. Many consultancies utilise standard methodologies irrespective of the specific business challenge.
At Business Unusual we recognise that every business challenge has a unique element to it which needs to be properly understood so that the appropriate solution is deployed. We focus on executing what is right for your business and not just maintain business as usual.
Business Unusual’s Experience and Services Reach
Our experience and services cut across blue chip organisations to government departments and the SME sector. Our core focus is offering services that provide transformation and penetration of businesses into huge growth markets like Nigeria.
Today, Business Unusual specializes particularly in supporting invested start-ups. Because of our experience we know entrepreneurs are often faced with challenges and risks they may not be aware of so that they are either unable to mitigate the risk, or maximise the opportunity.
In short we help you manage risk and assure success. Sustainable growth and people development is also a key part of our ethos.
We believe that improved performance can only be sustained by developing and adequately equipping resources for the challenges at hand and to come. We do not strive to entrench ourselves but to leave capability within the organisations where we work.
Assessment of Consultancy in Nigeria Telecom Sector
It is challenging but growing at the same time. It is getting better, because individuals and companies are valuing intellectual property now than what we saw in the past, through their ability to bring people into the definition of solutions to challenges companies face.
Especially in Nigeria, we have very peculiar problems even in our peculiar environment, thus, we need help who can help think outside the box.
It is not just about coming up with earthshaking, lovely looking documents; companies must peg discussions on practical and realizable ideas that can lead straight to the implementation stage.
Place of Business Unusual in Developing Nigeria’s Broadband Master Plan
We worked hand in hand with the committee to bring out the excellent product. All hands were on deck, working round the clock, because we tried to make sure the document buys into the ideas of the National ICT Policy and programmes of the ministry of Communications technology and to bring out a document that the operators, the licensees, industry stakeholders and the general public could fall back on.
As the Minister has presented to the stakeholders, the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and others concerned at the administrative level will take concerted steps to see the dreams and aspirations contained in the document are realized.
Human Capital Development to Drive the Sector, How Can That Be Achieved?
Human capacity development in the industry is still developing still. We have so many deltas through before we can get to the stage we expect our selves to be.
The essence is to first of all recognize the need, plan towards achieving the goals and work strictly in line with the blueprint.
The truth is that until we have Nigeria youths employable and employed to productively contribute to the GDP and the environment, the society and the economy in general, there will never be enough.
How Can Local Content in Telecom Develop Like The Oil And Gas?
Local content is one of the areas that need to be corrected in the industry. Local content in the ICT is not the same as in the oil and gas.
In the oil and gas sector we refer to Nigerians participating (actively) as skilled workforce in the whole value chain of the oil and gas sector, whether upstream, downstream or drilling of oil.
The policy arose as a result of many qualified Nigerians not giving their places in the determination of how things are management in the sector.
Thus, to address the apathy, Nigerian government came up with such beautiful document and it is working.
However, with the case of the federal government coming up with broadband policy and other programmes is to empower Nigerians; to develop local need and globally relevant solutions.
The solutions can be for hosting, distribution online via the cloud and other means; meaning not just Nollywood, which is the driver of the Nigerian contents now. But we are looking at software, locally designed, developed and distributed worldwide.
For instance, we can have specific language site such as Hausa for local communities in Kano, who at present we expect to surf the net and read everything in English language.
Of course, the reading value will be low. So, local content in IT can come as a way of educational material peculiar to Nigerian environment.
In essence, local content in the telecomm industry should focus on helping Nigerians demonstrate material developed by Nigerians for the consumption by the rest of the world.
Disconnect between Entrepreneurs and the Government
There are various channels to reach the government now. The website is there, especially now a single portal has been created to integrate the activities of the government for easier access of information.
The Federal Ministry of Communication Technology has done a fantastic thing by being the first ministry to provide that singular portal for the public to interact with the government.
That is an aspect of local content, because you would want to have direct not more than one degree separation interaction with the government.
It is a sure way to build our civic engagements. It portends that you must not know somebody in the Ministry or somebody who knows somebody before you can get through to those in the helm of affairs, rather you go to the central portal and make your request.
Is it driver’s licence, passport, or other services, from the comfort of one’s home he can get information on that.
So, the local apps developers can follow that platform or approach the incubation centre(s) and pre-incubation hubs and send their requests, they will get to relevant agencies via the Ministry.
Rating the Synergy between Private and Public Sectors in Driving IT Sector
In telecom sector, the synergy is improving. The evidences are there; what we in the private sector have been able to produce and achieve for the country so far shows that there have been tremendous improvement.
Government has also embraced stakeholders’ representation in articulating agenda for the sector; in other words, professional advices, thoughts, criticisms are taken into cognition by the Government in a very interactive and cordial manner.
Infrastructural Deficit and Harsh Operational Environment
I will pick up one issue that everybody is emphasizing on its negative impact on the sector. That has to do with broadband deployment and the unfriendly attitude of some state and Local Governments as regards arbitrary charges in the process of allocation of Right of Way (RoW).
Now, in the broadband document presented recently to the President Goodluck Jonathan, the Ministry and the stakeholders by the Committee, it is obvious we are not trying to harsh the same thing rather the Federal Government said it is trying to resolve issues.
The Federal Ministries of Works and Communication Technology have strategically worked out acceptable rate regime that will govern the process throughout the country.
And concerned should ensure they participate in removing such bottleneck, because no State or Local Government in Nigeria that would appreciate if it is not covered in the master plan or denied access to the infrastructure.
Government cannot do everything, at the same time the private sector cannot fund everything. In the report, every tier of Government has its assigned roles.
Even the citizens have roles to play; if there is an infrastructure that is faulty or damaged, report it. If you are the one damaging it, stop it! These are kind of things we must come together to tackle.
If Government should build road at a particular area and the residents allow people to damage the road, of course, common sense should tell us that before Government will come back to repair or rehabilitate the road, it has to make sure others have benefited; so, every infrastructure that serve the public should be protected by every member of the public. It is a global responsibility for all Nigeria.
We have to create enabling environment for the sustainability of what we desire. Still on infrastructure, there is a National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIM) that is going on right now.
The Ministry of Communication Technology, the Petroleum Ministry, private sectors, et cetera, are giving their input towards having a wholestic approach, so it is all about getting the basics done, not balloted agenda.
I think with that we will get the power working, the road motorable, and broadband will get to everybody.
Why the industry players are emphasizing on getting broadband available everywhere is because of the cost benefit to the country. For instance, it will reduce traffic, hence one can stay at the comfort of his room transact business or go to nearby access centre and get their work done.
Reappraising School Curriculum
It is absolutely important that the curricula are reappraised to reflect the present IT agenda in the country. If we are looking at providing broadband infrastructure in schools, why do we need to build libraries to put physical books?
Unless we want to showcase books of longevities, like archives, historical artifacts, among others, most of the other data should be online.
Therefore, the curriculum should be revised to incorporate modern teaching and learning techniques and also focus on improving the number of ICT professionals we have in the country. Those are the kind of discussions going on at the level of technical working group.
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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