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Telecom Subscribers Spend N335.94Bn on Calls, SMS, Data in May

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Telecommunications consumers in the country spent some N335.94 billion in May, according to findings by Business A.M.

Telecom Subscribers Spend N335.94Bn on Calls, SMS, Data in May

In arriving at the figures, Business A.M, estimated that each active telephone line averagely spent N1, 747.26 ($4.50) during the month.

Similarly, total active telephone lines in the country increased to 192.27 million in May, rising by additional 1.46 million lines from April’s record of 190.81 million, according to the latest industry statistics obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

As active subscriptions increased, so also did the Average Revenue per User (ARPU), which is a measure used primarily by consumer communications, digital media, and networking companies, as the total revenue divided by the number of subscribers.

The upward movement has been observed in two consecutive quarters as ARPU went up by 20 per cent to hit $4.25 in Q1, 2020 from $3.87 in Q4 of 2019; and sustained to settle at $4.50 in Q2, 2020.

This is in contrast to the conventional trend whereby rise in the number of active lines often distributes estimated revenue to total subscriptions and thus trigger contraction in ARPU.

Recall that industry observers had earlier projected increase in revenue for telecoms operators as lockdown and social distancing employed as preventive measures for COVID-19 have kept people at home and forced enterprises to divert operations and activities to the virtual space, resulting in more reliance on data and telephony in its entirety.

This has been supported by disclosure by Muahamed Rudman, chief executive officer of the Nigerian Internet Exchange Point (iXPN) who reported more than 10 per cent in internet traffic less than two weeks into lockdown in Nigeria.

As this development seems to ignite insinuations that operators are cashing in big on the development and that active telephone lines are rising, industry experts have been quick to call for a critical digestion of the figures.

Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), has cautioned that the figures must not be celebrated yet, hinting that the observed rise in revenue is claimed by just a few operators, leaving the majority of other telecoms players on the other side of the divide.

He noted that only the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) consisting of MTN, Glo, Airtel and 9Mobile and just a few others have their operations immune to the pandemic.

He said there are many other ATCON members who provide enterprise solutions for companies that are now under locks, and thus losing money to the lull on a daily basis.

He said: “We have to note that obviously, the industry is not just made up of the MNOs alone, there are other players in the market that have had to demonstrate negative numbers

“Negative numbers in the sense that, during the lockdown, employees of enterprises and businesses have stayed at home naturally. So, there have been no services to these enterprises by our members. So we can say this contributed to the change in consumer behaviour in terms of internet usage.

“However, as these slightly uplifted the numbers, they do not compensate for the losses in voice and they do not compensate for the losses in the enterprise segment of the market,” Teniola explained.

This is further supported by data from the industry regulator, NCC, showing that of the current 192.27 million active lines, the MNOs or GSM operators have 190.48 million subscribers on their networks, representing 99.82 per cent market share.

Other players by technology are Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) players controlling 0.12 per cent market share; the fixed wireless and wired operators have 0.06 per cent while code division multiple access (CDMA) have completely lost relevance in the Nigerian telecoms market, with 0.0 per cent market share.

In the GSM segment of the market, MTN Nigeria is leading with 76.06 million active lines on its network, which translates to 39.61 per cent market share, followed by Globacom that has 52.06 million customers on its network to cover 27.12 per cent of the Nigerian market.

Similarly, Airtel Nigeria, which remains the closest competitor to Glo serves 51.5 million subscribers on its network, equivalent to 26.83 per cent share while Emerging Market Telecommunications Service (EMTS), operating as 9Mobile in the country, controls 6.37 per cent market share with its remaining 12.23 million subscriptions.

Meanwhile, Visafone, whose subscribers now run on MTN network but captured separately in the NCC data had 137,086 active subscriptions as at May, and this secured for it 0.07 per cent, the smallest market share.

Analysis of trends in telecoms market also shows a sustained uptick in the number of active lines which grew from 184.7 million in December 2019 to 186.02 million in January, 187.44 million in February and 189.28 million to seal the first quarter in March.

The figure moved up again in April by 0.81 one per cent as 1.53 million new subscriptions were recorded on the networks of operators, extending the growth in May by 0.77 per cent with 1.46 million new subscribers.

Similarly, teledensity which stood at 99.96 per cent in April inched up to surpass 100 marks at 100.72 per cent.

Telephone density or teledensity is the number of telephone connections for every hundred individuals living within an area and is calculated based on a population estimate of 190 million people in Nigeria.

The latest rise in teledensity, according to the ATCON president, Teniola, indicates that something is not right with network distribution patterns in Nigeria, noting that despite the rise in the figures, millions of Nigerians, particularly in rural areas still lack access to telecoms services.

He said: “If you look at the increase in subscriptions, you will see that existing customers are picking up other new lines in addition to the ones they have to ensure that they can enjoy many offers and partake in virtual meetings and so on since the COVID-19 lockdown.

“The teledensity is above 100 per cent and anything above 100 per cent suggests saturation of accounts, network coverage and usage. Basically, concentration of services is in the triangular cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. But we have to think about those who don’t have access to services at all.

“The narrative around the number suggests that there are a lot of people who have access and can afford cost of data but they are concentrated, particularly in those cities of the country where penetration of broadband is, predominantly Lagos which takes about 15 per cent of the country’s current 40 per cent broadband penetration by subscription, and not by individual,” he explained.

As he cited the issue of young Nigerians who cannot access education online because of lack of access and affordability, he said solving the problem will depend primarily on expanding the service to them.

“I think that what we need to do is to look at the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) and see those areas that we really need to plug in to get a diminutive unique subscriber number that reflects the GDP increase that we are expecting in the country,” Teniola concluded.


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Satellite Operators Push New Signal across Africa, Indian Ocean Regions

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The Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), has started to broadcast a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) signal over Africa and Indian Ocean (AFI), providing its first open service in the region via NIGCOMSAT-1R Satellite managed and operated the by Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd., under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Satellite Operators Push New Signal across Africa, Indian Ocean Regions

This early open service is provided as part of the programme, which pursues the autonomous provision SBAS services in Africa, to augment the performances of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo.

With improved accuracy to within a meter, and boosted integrity, availability, and continuity of safety-related applications, these SBAS services will improve flight safety and efficiency in Africa, and also benefit the economy in many areas as land, sea, and rail transport, as well as mass-market applications, supporting user safety, cost-effectiveness, and sustainable development.

The launched open service essentially aims to carry-out technical trials, and to undertake partner airlines field demonstrations for aircraft and rotorcraft, to demonstrate the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services, expected from 2024. It will also include early Precise Point Positioning (PPP), and emergency warning service to populations, which performance will be proven through other demonstrations.

The signal-in-space is generated by a dedicated system tested, developed as part of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” preliminary design phase, financed by the European Union, and awarded to Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67 per cent), and Leonardo (33 per cent).

The “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” is based on the European EGNOS (1) developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), acting under the delegation of the European Commission and operated by the European GNSS Agency GSA.

The system prototype uses as reference stations the SAGAIE network deployed by CNES and ASECNA with the support of Thales Alenia Space.

The signal is broadcasted via the SBAS payload on NigComSat 1R GEO satellite of the Nigerian Communications Satellite, and an uplink station deployed in Abuja, Nigeria.

It is compliant to the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and the minimum operational performance standard developed by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) organisation.

It will be visible in the whole of Africa and the Indian Ocean, up to the West Australian coast, and also in Europe.

Dr. Abimbola Alale, managing director/chief executive officer of NIGCOMSAT, said: “we are proud to be part of this ambitious program to provide satellite navigation services in the Africa and Indian Ocean region. The use of our geostationary communication satellite NIGCOMSAT-1R navigation payload to broadcast the first signal will be Africa’s premier contribution to SBAS as a regional satellite-based augmentation system for the continent.”

On his part, Benoit Broudy, vice president, Navigation Business at Thales Alenia Space in France, said the longstanding expertise acquired with the development of EGNOS1 SBAS in Europe, and KASS SBAS in Korea, combined with the new leading-edge satellite positioning technologies make Thales Alenia the ideal partner to best support countries to implement their own SBAS efficiently.

“The equatorial region represents also a key engineering challenge for such a system due to difficult ionosphere conditions, for which Thales Alenia Space has developed a proven solution,” he stated.

Mohamed Moussa, director-general of ASECNA, said the provision of the first African SBAS early service is a crucial major step forward in the development of satellite navigation in the AFI region, and in the deployment of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” system, the navigation solution for Africa by Africa.

He said: “It demonstrates the ambition and commitment of ASECNA to enhance air navigation safety for the benefit of the whole continent, in line with my vision for the unification of the African Sky.”


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ipNX, USTDA Ink Partnership Deal to Develop Nigeria’s ICT Infrastructure

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ipNX, Nigeria’s pioneering and leading information, communications and technology (ICT) company and the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) have signed a partnership deal that will further support the development of Nigeria’s ICT and broadband infrastructure and help ipNX expand its fibre-optic network to more than 200,000 residences in Lagos and other locations, including Abuja and Port Harcourt.

A virtual signing ceremony that signalled the beginning of this far reaching relationship between the two parties was held on Thursday, September 17, 2020.

Through this innovative initiative, the USTDA is supporting ipNX to promote inclusive, secure and sustainable connectivity across the nation.

The agreements were made possible as a result of several engagements between the USTDA delegation to Nigeria and the leadership of ipNX; and will advance the goals of the recently updated Nigerian Broadband Plan.

At the Signing Ceremony, Ejovi Aror, group managing director of ipNX, said: “We believe that world-class connectivity and broadband internet access will be pivotal to the digital transformation and socio-economic development of Nigeria.

‘We are very positive that this project will play a crucial role in making our belief a reality.”

Aror added that with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the case for a vibrant ICT sector has never been stronger and the new partnership will bring ipNX a step closer to achieving its mission to continually leverage technology to create innovative solutions that help mankind thrive, while making a crucial impact to the lives of Nigerians across the country.

Mary Beth Leonard, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, said’ “These projects will support the development of Nigeria’s telecoms infrastructure and help to achieve the goals of the National Broadband Plan.

“The U.S. Government has committed significant resources to improving telecoms infrastructure in Nigeria and this support is crucial as we believe that investment in critical ICT projects will strengthen the resiliency outlined in Nigeria’s economic sustainability plan.”

Also present at the virtual event, the Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Engr. Bako Wakil, who spoke on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, said: “The support this grant will provide to the telecommunications sector, in particular broadband, is in line with the National Digital Strategy and the National Broadband Plan.

“The NCC would like to congratulate ipNX as it shows the company’s integrity and commitment to be selected for this grant”.

ipNX also revealed that it intends to continue to work with USTDA beyond the preliminary stage, to execute many more projects into the future that will bring about the digital transformation and socio-economic development of major cities in Nigeria in alignment with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.

With their partnership, both parties fully agree that further development of the nation’s broadband infrastructure is key to unlocking the potential promised by Nigeria’s digital economy.

According to the World Bank’s ‘Nigeria Digital Economy Diagnostic Report’ released in 2019, Broadband is a key enabler to harness the digital economy transformation and high-speed broadband has the potential to accelerate Nigeria’s socio-economic development.

 


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Manfa, ANSICTA Boss Pledges to Collaborate with NITDA for Establishment of Zonal Office in Anambra State

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Mr Theo Manfa, managing director/chief executive officer, Anambra State Information and Communication Technology Agency, (ANSICTA) has hinted that they are ready to collaborate with National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) for the establishment of the agency’s South-East Zonal office in the State.

 

He stated this when he led ANSICTA delegation to NITDA’s head office in Abuja recently.

 

Mr Manfa explained that the call for special requests by the state is necessitated by the fact that the state “has long been known as a home of innovation and entrepreneurship, through the various markets like Onitsha and Nnewi and the plethora of locally produced goods they spawned over time.”

Dr Vincent Vincent Olatunji, Director E-Government and Regulation NITDA receiving an award on behalf of the DG from Theo Manafa MD ANSICTA

He said that innovation and entrepreneurship are important elements to drive the digital economy which the nation is striving to create adding that the state has been watching with keen interest the activities of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and NITDA which necessitated the intended partnership.

 

He requested NITDA’s partnership with ANSICTA in building an ICT Hub in Anambra State; hosting a NITDA regional office; hosting NITDA events and programs as a State and region; trainings and Skills development programs of NITDA where the State hopes to train 40,000 residents in the next 2 years in Digital skills; establishment of cooperation on the Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA) and the provision of the Unity Board where 150 units were requested for a program for secondary schools in Anambra.

 

ANSICTA also presented an award to the Director General for his “Outstanding Achievements in Driving theDigital Economy” which was received by Dr. Vincent Olatunji on behalf of the DG.

 

Dr. Olatunji responded along with comments from some of the Directors and said NITDA would be glad to cooperate with the State.

L-R: Theo Manafa, MD/CEO of ANSICTA, Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi, DG of NITDA and Michael Orekyeh, COO of ANSICTA

He said it was gratifying to note that Anambra State now has an ICT Agency as Gov Willie Obiano had visited NITDA 6 years ago and the agency had worked with the State in developing an ICT policy for Anambra.

 

The success of that exercise is the take off of the agency (ANSICTA) which is the execution arm of the policy developed by NITDA.

 

He further said ANSICTA was by the speech of its MD really in tune with the affairs and mandates of NITDA and stated that ANSICTA should make a formal application for the things requested at this meeting will be looked into by Management for approval by the Director General.

 

He also thanked ANSICTA for recognizing the hard work of the DG through the award they presented, which he said was most encouraging.

Michael Orekyeh; chief operating officer of ANSICTA was part of the delegation from Anambra State. while the Director General of NITDA, Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi was represented by the Director E-Government and Regulation, Dr. Vincent Olatunji; Director Office of ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship – OIIE, Dr. (Mrs.) Amina Sambo Magaji; Deputy Director of IT Infrastructure, Dr. Saidu Kumo; SA Technical to the DG, Dr. Mohammed Yahaya; Corporate Strategy Department, Dr. Taofik Yekini and other Directors and Key Management Staff.

 

 

 


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