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FG Committed to Fast-track Nigeria’s Digital Economy – Pantami

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FG Committed to Fast-track Nigeria’s Digital Economy - Pantami, SiliconNigeria
  • As Danbatta urges Industry Operators to settle huge interconnect debt

L-R: Mr Alan Sinfield, Managing Director/CEO 9mobile; Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Mr.Olusola Teniola, President Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON); Mr. Muyiwa Ogungboye, 2nd Vice President ATCON; Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, during the maiden edition of the National Dialogue on Telecoms and ICT Sector in Nigeria organised by ATCON at the NAF Conference Centre & Suites, Kado, Abuja today (Thursday, October 14,  2020.)

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has re-emphasized the resolve of the Federal Government, through the Ministry, to continually advance the digital economy agenda of the country.

 Pantami stated this while delivering a keynote address at the maiden edition of the National Dialogue on Telecoms and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sectors in Nigeria held at the NAF Conference Centre & Suites, Abuja on Thursday, 15 October 2020. The event was organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in collaboration with other industry stakeholders.

Represented by the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Minister said the event with the overarching theme: ‘Harnessing the Digital Resources for the Building of Our National Economy’ and sub-themes lined up for discussions, were apt and timely, given the increased reliance of individuals and businesses on digital platforms to carry out their activities.

Pantami stated that the digital economy journey started by the Ministry, following the President’s approval in 2019, culminated in the development of an eight-pillar National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) with a view to providing a more coordinated and enhanced national policy direction for transforming Nigeria’s economy into a truly digital economy.

He said that NDEPS is a policy document that addresses different aspects of development that require attention in order to have a vibrant digital economy, adding that, like Nigeria, most nations are prioritising the need to develop their digital economies because of the multiplier effect on all other sectors of the economy.

The Minister noted some of the challenges of the digital economy to include rapid evolution of technology and widening inequalities between the digital “haves” and “haves-not”; need for new regulations; cybercrime and other threats; low level of digital literacy; and the need for infrastructure.

While expressing optimism about Nigeria’s digital economy strategy, he economic growth and productivity; increased transparency; growth of digital innovation and entrepreneurship; digitisation of work and useful insights from big data as some of the opportunities that abound and from which the economy will gain.

“The telecom and ICT sector stand to gain a lot from the development of our digital economy and the public and private sector need to come on board to maximise the impact on the entire economy,” the Minister said.

However, speaking in his capacity as the EVC of NCC and lead presenter at the second panel session on the theme: “National Funding and Investment Strategy for Broadband Infrastructure and Digital Economy”, Danbatta gave the theme a sharper by focusing on what the Commission had done in the last five years, especially in stimulating the development of resilient ICT infrastructure and the benefits these regulatory efforts have brought to the economy.

Situating his presentation in the context of ‘Nigeria’s Telecom Sector: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,’ Danbatta explained that access gaps in the country have been reduced from 217 in 2015 to 114.

“We have licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos); we have introduced innovative policies such as spectrum trading and spectrum farming; broadband penetration has increased from 6 percent to 43.3 per cent in the last five years. Also, from 8 per cent in 2015, the telecoms sector contributed over 14 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as in the second quarter of 2020, valued at N2.3 trillion,” Danbatta said.

Meanwhile, the EVC has urged telecom operators in the country to settle the huge interconnect debts being owed by various industry operators, noting that this should be resolved in the wider interest of the industry. Danbatta said the “interconnectivity indebtedness valued at over N70 billion is a big challenge to infrastructure expansion and inimical to healthy competition” which are needed for facilitating digital economy in Nigeria.

Earlier in his welcome address, the President of ATCON, Olusola Teniola, said the national dialogue was targeted at harnessing the digital resources in the country with a view to optimising innovative ideas to effectively pursue the digital economy agenda of the Federal Government.

The event featured insightful panel discussion sessions by industry stakeholders and goodwill messages by state governments’ representatives across the six geo-political zones, who used the platform to talk about how their states were leveraging ICT deployment to drive their economic activities and the development of their states.

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MTN Nigeria Reports N973.8bn Revenue, 75m Subscribers In 9 Months

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MTN Nigeria Reports N973.8bn Revenue 75m Subscribers In 9 Months, SiliconNigeria

MTN Nigeria Communications (MTNN) Plc, has said its mobile subscribers’ base increased to 75 million while service revenue increased by 13 9 per cent to N973.8 billion in the first nine of 2020.

Details of the development are contained in the unaudited results of the company’s nine months 2020 report made available to the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), yesterday.
The report stated that mobile subscribers increased by 3.9 million to 75.0 million, while active data users increased by 17 million to 30.7 million

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew by 9.1 per cent to N497.9 billion, while EBITDA margin declined by 2.3 percentage points (pp) to 51 per cent.
Profit before tax declined by 0.6 per cent to N211.6 billion, while earnings per share (EPS) declined by 3.3 per cent to N7.10.

Speaking on the results, the CEO of MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman, said: “The year 2020 was a challenging period for everyone. During the period under review, we saw volatility in both voice and data revenue, affecting the trajectory of our overall service revenue, as well as pressure on costs, which continues to impact our operating margins, dampening profitability.”

According to him, data revenue rose by 57.0 per cent, with an increase in data usage and traffic. Revenue from digital and fintech services rose by 114.3 per cent and 28.3 per cent respectively, while voice revenue growth was 4.2 per cent.

“We saw a significant increase in our subscriber base with the addition of 3.9 million customers in Q3, bringing total subscribers to 75 million. Cumulative net additions totalled 10.7 million in the nine months to September 2020, the first time we have exceeded 10 million additions in an annual cycle with one quarter remaining. We also connected 1.7 million new users to the internet in Q3, bringing our active data subscribers to 30.7 million,” he pointed out.

On the outlook, Moolman, said, despite the relaxation of the lock down restrictions, the operating environment remains challenging, promising that the firm will continue to build on its operational and financial resilience and execute its strategy to position the business for sustained growth over the medium and long term.

The availability of foreign exchange remains a constraint even as we strive to minimise its impact on the business. In the remaining quarter of 2020, we will build on the momentum from Q3 to further expand 4G coverage and broaden rural connectivity. This, backed by our revamped acquisition offers, will help to boost subscriber acquisition as well as support the continued growth in voice and dota revenue,” he said.

The company recently announced the appointment of Mr Kari Toriola as the CEO designate for MTN Nigeria with effective March 1, 2021.

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Airtel To Exit From Ghana market, Reports $3.5bn Revenue in India

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Airtel Exit From Ghana market Reports $3.5bn Revenue in India, SiliconNigeria

Bharti Airtel’s board has announced that the Ghana government and AirtelTigo are in the advanced stages of concluding an agreement to transfer the mobile operator AirtelTigo to the state.

This includes its customers, asserts and agreed liabilities, with 100 percent of shares on a going concern basis. No financial details of the sale were disclosed, but Airtel said it is taking an impairment charge of INR 1.84 billion on its holding in the operator.

AirtelTigo is a joint venture between Airtel and Millicom formed in 2017, in which Airtel holds a non-controlling 49.95 percent stake. It’s the third largest mobile operator in Ghana, with around 21 percent of customers. 

In another development, Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal noted the company bucked traditional weakness in its fiscal Q2 (calendar Q3), as growing numbers of 4G users and a  hike in tariffs in 2019 combined to deliver the operator’s highest-ever consolidated quarterly revenue.

In a statement, Vittal cited a bump in monthly data consumption as a revenue driver and hailed “strong engagement” of customers as evidence the operator’s digital platform strategy was on the right track. Another highlight was “steady growth momentum” in its business unit.

The operator ended the period with 152.7 million 4G users, up 48.1 per cent year-on-year, with daily traffic up from 48.9PB to 77.3PB. In the quarter it added more than 5,000 LTE sites, taking the total above 200,000.

Airtel explained it continued to tackle the lingering effects of Covid-19 (coronavirus), with ongoing promotion of digital channels for top-ups and payments.

It also noted stores and offices had reopened, insurance arranged for staff, and financial aid provided to partners. Revenue of INR257.8 billion ($3.5 billion) was 22 per cent higher, with net loss reduced from INR230.4 billion in fiscal Q2 2020 to INR7.6 billion.

Mobile service revenue in India grew 25.9 per cent to INR138.3 billion, while its South Asia number was flat at INR1.1 billion. Its tower business reaped INR17.7 billion, up INR1 billion. India ARPU increased from INR128 in fiscal Q2 2020 to INR162 in the recent quarter.

Its Africa operation last week revealed revenue gains, but a slight decline in net profit.

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MTN Appoints Toriola Nigeria CEO Designate, Moolman Group Chief Risk Officer

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MTN Appoints Toriola Nigeria CEO Designate Moolman Group Chief Risk Officer, SiliconNigeria

MTN Nigeria has announced the appointment of Mr. Karl Toriola as the chief executive officer (CEO) designate. His appointment is effective 1st March 2021, providing enough time for an orderly handover. 

Mr. Toriola is currently the vice president, West and Central Africa (WECA), excluding Nigeria and Ghana, a position he assumed in 2016. During that period, he has overseen the steady progress of the operating companies in the region, notably the turnaround of MTN Ivory Coast and MTN Cameroon.

During his tenure, the WECA markets have made significant commercial and strategic strides. These include the improvement of market shares within the region and the development of mobile financial services. 

Since joining the Group in 2006, Toriola has also held a number of senior operational roles including chief technical officer of MTN Nigeria, CEO of MTN Cameroon and MTN Group Operations Executive.

The current CEO of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Ferdinand Moolman, will exit this role with effect from 1st March 2021 and assume a new role as MTN Group Chief Risk Officer. Mr. Moolman joined MTN in 2002 and has held several senior positions within the Group, in Nigeria and Iran.

 He joined the Board of MTN Nigeria in 2014 as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and became CEO in 2015. Under his leadership, significant progress has been made in stabilising the business and setting it on a sustainable growth path. He will remain on the Board of MTN Nigeria in his new role as the MTN Group Chief Risk Officer.  

Mr. Toriola has at various times in his career in MTN Group had oversight responsibility of 16 of the Group subsidiaries and serves on various MTN boards, including MTN Nigeria. Prior to joining MTN Nigeria, he was the Chief Operations/Regional Officer for Vmobile Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria) where he was responsible for operations.

 Mr. Toriola obtained a Bachelor of Science in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Ife, a Master of Science degree in Communication Systems from the University of Wales, and attended the General Management Program in Harvard Business School. In addition, he has attended several executive development courses at various institutions including Wharton Business School, Harvard Business School, Institute of Management Development and London Business School. He is a Fellow, Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE) and Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN) as well as a Member, Institute of Directors. 

After a thorough and rigorous selection process, we are delighted to welcome Karl back to MTN Nigeria” commented Ernest Ndukwe, Chairman of MTN Nigeria.

“Recognised throughout the industry as a highly experienced and well regarded business leader, Karl has been a member of the MTN family for over 14 years and has an intimate understanding of the telco business. His appointment further reaffirms the Company’s commitment to succession planning as well as retaining and developing identified high performing executives. With his rich credentials, I am personally pleased that Mr. Karl Toriola is well-suited to lead MTN Nigeria’s Executive Management team through the next stages of growth in the years ahead.” 

 “The Board of MTN Nigeria wishes to express its gratitude to Ferdi for his exemplary leadership. He has played a critical role in the Company’s development and success, and while we will miss him, we wish him the best in his new role at MTN Group” said Dr. Ndukwe. 

Ferdi Responds  

In response, Ferdi Moolman said, “I wish to thank the Board of Directors, Management, our dedicated shareholders and my amazing team, for all of the support you have given me through the years. I am proud of the people of MTN Nigeria and the Company we are building; and while this is a time of great challenge and opportunity, I remain steadfastly confident in the greater potential and future of this nation and the significance of our role within it. It has been my honour and privilege to serve this great Company. I am grateful for my time here and the supportive relationships built over time.” 

Karl Toriola’s Homecoming  

Commenting on his new appointment, Karl Toriola said, “I am delighted to be returning to serve in my country at such a critical point in history when the services we provide are so important to our national development. MTN Nigeria is a great company with exceptional people and extraordinary customers, who place a high value on those services. I have a clear focus on delivering a stellar network experience and enhanced customer service; and look forward to working with an outstanding group of leaders, in and out of government, over the coming years to continue harnessing our capabilities, transforming our relationships and delivering even greater value to our nation and her people.”

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