It’s official! MTN ‘reviews’ Nigeria mobile customers

South Africa’s MTN Group has completed an internal review to redefine the mobile phone company’s “active” subscriber base for Nigeria where its MTN Nigeria is the nation’s largest operator.

Technology Times can confirm that the process has been completed for MTN Nigeria, where the mobile phone company with market leadership by subscriber number has posted “active subscribers” dropping from 62,248,827 in January 2017 to 50,307,169 by September this year, official market information by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has also shown.

Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN Group, the South African mobile phone company that owns MTN Nigeria said that the subscriber review process, which will be carried out in all its 22 operations across Africa and the Middle East, has been completed for Nigeria.

MTN Nigeria, the mobile phone company with market leadership by subscriber number has posted "active subscribers" dropping from 62,248,827 in January 2017 to 50,307,169 as at September this year, official market information, seen in picture above by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has also shown.

MTN Nigeria, the mobile phone company with market leadership by subscriber number has posted “active subscribers” dropping from 62,248,827 in January 2017 to 50,307,169 as at September this year, official market information, seen in picture above by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has also shown.

How operators rank by Internet subscribers in Nigeria

In the telecoms market where market might is a game of numbers, operators traditionally count actual or active mobile telecommunications service subscribers also known as “active mobile subscribers” as those that have carried out any activity that has accrued revenue in the last 90 days.

Though no standard definition exists across operators, some of them consider services used to quantify active subscribers to include examples like: Send/Receive Voice/Video Calls; Sending of Short Messages Service (SMS); Charge/Recharge or Activation of Service or Subscription; International Roaming Service; Using Multimedia Message Service (MMS) and accessing the Internet.


Editor’s Note: Check back for updates shortly.

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Publiseer opens free online publishing platform for Nigerian authors

Chidi and Chika Nwaogu, identical twin brothers and computer programmers, say they have rolled out Publiseer, an online platform for Nigerian authors to publish their works for free on the Internet.

The were inspired by the plight of “millions of talents in Nigeria”  who “remain undiscovered due to lack of resources and funds to get published”, they said in a statement made available to Technology Times about the platform.

“For some that struggles to publish their works, promoting and getting words out about it becomes a challenge, so they remain like every other person who is yet to even get creative.”

They are now addressing the challenge through Publiseer, a startup that focuses on helping Nigerian writers and musicians publish their works everywhere for free. The brothers who said that they have co-founded two successful and globally-recognised startups in the past, say they are set to take on the publishing industry.

Nigerian SMEs ‘should leverage technology’, Microsoft says

According to them, Publiseer is a digital publishing platform for independent Nigerian writers and musicians who are seeking for ways to sell their books and songs on the Internet. The platform helps writers and musicians attract new fans that rely on well-established brands like Amazon, Google Play store and Apple store to drive their book and music discovery experience.

According to them, Publiseer is a digital publishing platform for independent Nigerian writers and musicians who are seeking for ways to sell their books and songs on the Internet. The platform helps writers and musicians attract new fans that rely on well-established brands like Amazon, Google Play store and Apple store to drive their book and music discovery experience.

Publiseer's mission is to sell the creativity of Nigerians to the rest of the world and to promote the beautiful Nigerian culture through written words (via books) and spoken words (via songs), he said.

Publiseer’s mission is to sell the creativity of Nigerians to the rest of the world and to promote the beautiful Nigerian culture through written words (via books) and spoken words (via songs), he said.

“Publiseer helps Nigerian writers and musicians sell their books and songs on over 400 online stores across 100 countries, and the platform is free, so writers and musicians don’t have to worry about paying any publishing fees. Publiseer is planning to make Nigeria a better place by providing a free and quality digital publishing solution for young and budding Nigerian writers and musicians who don’t have the resources to publish their works”, they said.

According to Chidi Nwaogu, co-founder of Publiseer, said that “Competitors like BookBaby and CDBaby, publish books and songs by charging their writers and musicians, but Publiseer provides the same quality digital publishing solution for free.”

Publiseer’s mission is to sell the creativity of Nigerians to the rest of the world and to promote the beautiful Nigerian culture through written words (via books) and spoken words (via songs), he said.

“The success of a business is built upon the vision and hard work of the founders and the effort put in by the team players. Both the founders and their employees play a vital role in the foundation of a startup company. Everybody is needed to build a solid foundation, from the top managers to the little ones, even the interns. Nobody is negligible. That’s the mentality we have at Publiseer. We believe that everyone matters in our growth, especially our clients,” Nwaogu, the Publiseer co-founder said. “Most startups fail because the team members are not passionate about what they are doing. Passion drives a startup better than a financial incentive. If a startup only sets out to make a profit from day one, then the startup has failed from the very beginning. A startup should be more focused on solving an immediate need. Profit comes after a good reputation, and that’s what we are building at Publiseer, a reputable digital publishing platform that Nigerians will be proud of.”

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Nigeria’s TD Mobile, Nokia explore stakes in Ghana

TD Mobile, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest mobile devices distributor, and Nokia have announced a partnership to offer smartphones in the West African nation of Ghana.

Ghana’s smartphone penetration is considered to be around 21% and the Nigerian technology company is assuring mobile device consumers in the country “genuine quality mobile devices at the right prices for the majority of Ghanaians.”

According to the National Communications Authority, the telecoms regulatory agency of Ghana, total mobile subscription in Ghana increased (1.75%) to 36,407,583 with a penetration rate of 128.0% by mid-2017. Volume of mobile voice traffic also increased by 6.45% to 14.42 billion minutes in the second quarter of 2017 while mobile data subscriptions increased (1.96%) to 21,844,613 data traffic also increased by 24.63% to 33.98 billion megabytes, underscoring the vibrant mobile ecosystem.

According to the National Communications Authority, the telecoms regulatory agency of Ghana, total mobile subscription in Ghana increased (1.75%) to 36,407,583 with a penetration rate of 128.0% by mid-2017.

A mobile phone user seen at Tech Plus 2016

TD Mobile, owned by Technology Distributions Ltd., one of the businesses in the Zinox Technology Group, said that it is bringing to Ghana key mobile brands like Infinix, Samsung, Tecno, Lenovo, InnJoo and Transcend, among many others.

TD Mobile’s said its partnership agreement with HMD Global as sole distributors of NOKIA mobile devices will drive the influx of the much-anticipated NOKIA 8 and the re-born version of the iconic NOKIA 3310, among other models recently unveiled by the brand.

“We are extremely delighted to extend our operations to Ghana which remains one of the most prominent markets in the West African sub-region. We are also excited with our appointment as exclusive distributors of NOKIA mobile phones in the country,” Managing Director, TD Mobile, Mrs. Gozy Ijogun said in a company statement made available to Technology Times.

According to her, “with a predominantly youthful population, stable political system and an admirably aspirational mindset among its people, there is so much potential in Ghana. We are optimistic that, with the launch of TD Mobile and the unveiling of new lines of products and partnerships here, the rate of technology diffusion and smartphone penetration will reach unprecedented levels. The positive effects of these on the economy and the standard of living in the country are huge and we are so excited to be a part of it.”

The launch event held at the prestigious Villa Monticello Boutique Hotel, Airport Residential Area, Accra on Friday October 27th 2017.

The event was attended by government functionaries from the Ministry of Communication, Ministry of Business Development, Ministry of Trade and Industry, captains of industries; representatives of major telecoms companies and stakeholders in the smartphone reseller and consumer space.

Also present was the Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, the Lithuanian Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Joseph Syme; Managing Director/CEO, United Bank for Africa (Ghana) Ltd., Abiola Bawuah; CEO, Ghana Free Zone Board, Michael Bafi and a host of celebrities from the movie and entertainment industries, according to the company statement.

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MTN not interested in 9Mobile, Group CEO says

South Africa’s MTN Group has said that the mobile phone group is not interested in buying 9Mobile, the Nigerian mobile operator formerly called Etisalat Nigeria.

Speculations have been circulating that MTN, owners of MTN Nigeria and some rival operators are considering buying 9Mobile which has been taken over by a group of creditors.

However, MTN, which is also just getting out of the woods from the financial impact of the unprecedented N1.4 trillion fines imposed on its Nigerian mobile unit, MTN Nigeria, said its focus is not to acquire its local competitor.

Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN dropped the hint that the South African mobile phone company was “not actively engaged” in the ongoing process to sell off 9Mobile by the consortium of creditor banks.

“There is a lot of press speculation around that. That is not our focus. Our focus right now is basically focussing on our own operation and improving that, optimising it, focussing on the commercial performance”, Shuter said.

Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN

Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN

“There is a lot of press speculation around that. That is not our focus. Our focus right now is basically focussing on our own operation and improving that, optimising it, focussing on the commercial performance”, Shuter said.

Recent reports have linked the Big Three Mobile operators in Nigeria with talks to buy 9Mobile, after the mobile phone company became a takeover victim by its creditors in financial obligations running into over N541.8 billion, according to reports.

Before its troubles, the former Etisalat Nigeria, the number four mobile operator by subscriber numbers devoted its key focus on the youth market and delivery of mobile data services, which has helped to propel its subscriber uptakes in the competitive mobile market.

Unprecedented: Watchdog imposes N1.4 trillion fine on MTN Nigeria

 

The MTN Group CEO, who dropped this hint while speaking in South Africa wraps up the market trend this way: “I think the competitive intensity is pretty  high. Etisalat has rebranded as 9mobile. They have always been very much focussed on the metro data positioning. So we’ve seen them more active in the market. It’s a  competitive market. You’ve got ourselves, Eti or 9mobile, Airtel, Glo, a lot of ISPs. So I think it remains a competitively intense market. I do think though that we are doing  much better there. I feel much more confident about our relative performance. And we see that in some of our internal subscriber analysis.”

On the flip side, both operators have been hit by falling subscriber numbers since last year in what has become an industry-wide trend with varying degree of impact on individual operator.

MTN Nigeria’s active subscriber base has dropped from 61,840,461 at the end of last year to 50,307,169 by September 2017.

Same goes for troubled 9Mobile which has recorded relatively higher impact in the wake of its takeover after posting 20,809,889 in 2016, which has dropped to 17,203,940 by September 2017.

On its part, Globacom, the number two by numbers, which was 37,357,843 by 2016 is now 37,349,979 by Septemeber 2017.
Meanwhile, Airtel Nigeria, the number three by numbers which had 34,116,409 by 2017 is now posting 34,625,744 at end of September 2017.

In July this year, the management of Etisalat Nigeria announced the reconstitution of its Board under which it was announced that the consortium of lenders, working with the regulators NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria, will restructure the company.

Mr. Waleed al-Muhain, Deputy CEO Mubadala Development Company (MDC), owners of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services, trading as Etisalat Nigeria; and Prof. Umar Danbatta, EVC/CEO NCC receiving Mr. al-Muhain who led the MDC team on a courtesy visit to NCC.

Photo release by NCC shows Mr Sunday Dare, NCC’s Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management (left); Mr Waleed al-Muhain, Deputy CEO of Mubadala Development Company (MDC), owners of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services (EMTS) trading as Etisalat Nigeria; Professor Umar Danbatta, EVC/CEO of NCC; Mr. Khaled al-Qubaisi of MDC and Mr Hakeem Belo-Osagie, Chairman Etisalat Nigeria at a visit to the Nigerian Communications Commission on in Abuja.

The reconstituted board comprises of Dr. Joseph Nnanna, (Chairman); Mr. Oluseyi Bickersteth, Mr. Ken Igbokwe, Mr. Boye Olusanya and Mrs. Funke Ighodaro.

Mr. Boye Olusanya, who was named Chief Executive Officer replaced Mr. Matthew Willsher, while Mrs. Funke Ighodaro takes over from Mr. Olawole Obasunloye as Chief Finance Officer.

Prior to this, the Nigerian telecoms regulator has invoked the principle of “Too-Big-To-Fail” to try to forestall the hostile takeover of the mobile phone company by its creditors.

“The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), took the interest of investors, subscribers and employees of Etisalat into consideration to align with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in order to resolve the issues of Etisalat Nigeria (now 9Mobile) and consortium of 13 banks”. Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has said.

Danbatta justifies that, “the over $2B Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), by Mubadala of United Arab Emirates (UAE) was hanging, while 20 million subscribers and over 2000 workers would have been affected if we did not intervene in the matter with a view to finding an amicable resolution.”

According to him, if the company had gone under, this would have created a social problem especially with the job of over 2,000 Nigerians on the line, a turn of event which he said could create security challenges for the country.

Danbatta said that NCC collaborated with CBN to avert a looming economic disaster because “we want to see a viable and thriving 9Mobile and we want to cooperate with you so that things can move seamlessly and be successful.”

Etisalat Nigeria, the last entrant among the Big Four GSM networks in Nigeria, ranked number four by subscriber base with 19,621,806 active lines representing 12.91% of the market segment at Q1 2017, according to NCC figures.

MTN Nigeria, with 60,391,959, accounted for 40.00%; Globacom with 37,328,827, accounted for 24.60% and 34,656,605 accounted for 22.80%, within the same period.

Before the partnership fell through in the wake of the debt crisis, EMTS, the privately-owned Nigerian company behind Etisalat Nigeria was in alliance with Mubadala and Etisalat of UAE, after it acquired the unified access licence from the Federal Government in January 2007. Its $400 million licence win at the time included a mobile licence and spectrum in the GSM 1800 and 900 MHZ bands.

UAE’s Etisalat later acquired a 40% stake in EMTS and was subsequently made the operator of the unified access licence and the Nigerian phone business.

However, Etisalat has pulled out of the Nigerian phone business and subsequently withdrew its brand to cause the name switch from Etisalat Nigeria to 9Mobile.

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Andela CEO sees African techies solving ‘world most pressing problems’ amid $40m fundings

Africa’s technology talents are now positioned to provide solutions to the world’s most pressing, Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Andela, has said amid fresh injection of $40 million into the technology company.

“Over the past three years, we’ve helped prove to the world that brilliance is evenly distributed. It’s now time to prove that our model of investing in extraordinary people isn’t just viable, but revolutionary,” says Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Andela. “Increasingly, African technologists will be launching high-impact companies and solving some of the world’s most pressing problems, and this round will help that happen faster.”

Andela, which has a Nigeria office, builds high-performing engineering teams with Africa’s most talented software developers, and recently secured $40 million in Series C funding. The investment was led by pan-African venture firm CRE Venture Capital with participation from DBL Partners, Amplo, Salesforce Ventures, and Africa-focused TLcom Capital.

Meanwhile Andela has also announced that Dr Omobola Johnson, the former Minister for Communication Technology will be joining its board following the fresh rounds of fundings secured by the tech company.

Existing investors, including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, and Spark Capital, also participated. The round, which marks one of the largest investments ever led by an African venture firm into an Africa-based company, brings Andela’s total venture funding to over $80 million.

Existing investors, including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, and Spark Capital, also participated. The round, which marks one of the largest investments ever led by an African venture firm into an Africa-based company, brings Andela’s total venture funding to over $80 million.

Andela team seen at an event. Andela, which has a Nigeria office, builds high-performing engineering teams with Africa's most talented software developers, and recently secured $40 million in Series C funding   Photo credit: Andela

Andela team seen at an event. Andela, which has a Nigeria office, builds high-performing engineering teams with Africa’s most talented software developers, and recently secured $40 million in Series C funding Photo credit: Andela

Andela was launched in 2014 to combat the global technical talent shortage by investing in Africa’s most talented software developers. With an estimated 1.3M software jobs unfilled in 2016 in the U.S. alone, it’s clear that the growth of today’s major technology ecosystems is inhibited by a severe lack of talent. To solve this, Andela invests in high potential pools of brainpower across the African continent to help more than 100 partner companies build distributed engineering teams. These partners range from industry leaders like Viacom and Mastercard Labs to high-growth technology companies such as Gusto and GitHub.

With offices in Lagos, Nigeria, Nairobi, Kenya, and Kampala, Uganda, Andela has hired 500 developers to date — the top 0.7% of more than 70,000 applicants from across the continent. Selected developers spend six months in a rigorous on boarding program before being matched with one of Andela’s partner companies as full-time engineering team members. Beyond recruiting elite development talent, Andela is catalyzing the growth of tech ecosystems across the continent by open-sourcing its content and partnering with organizations including Google and Pluralsight to provide resources and mentorship to developers.

Pule Taukobong, Founding Partner of CRE Venture Capital, also says that “at present, there is more capital to fund ideas globally than there are people to build them. Andela is providing a solution to this global talent dilemma while building a business case for one of Africa’s greatest assets: our people.”

Andela will use the capital to fuel its aggressive expansion plans. The company aims to launch offices in two additional African countries over the next year, doubling its developer base from 500 to 1,000 to meet growing demand. Alongside this round, Pule Taukobong of CRE, Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister and Amplo Board Partner, and Omobola Johnson, Senior Partner at TLcom and former Minister of Communication Technology in Nigeria, will be joining Andela’s board.

Omobola Johnson

Dr. Omobola Johnson, former Minister of Communication Technology for Nigeria, will be joining the Andela board, the company has announced

The company is also welcoming Salesforce Ventures, TLcom, DBL, and Amplo to the “Andela family of investors.” Andela announced that “with them, Omobola Johnson, former ICT Minister of Nigeria and Partner at TLcom, Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and Amplo Board Partner, and Nancy Pfund, Managing Director of DBL, will be joining our board as well.”

For the Andela team, the new rounds of funding and growing partnership is bring the company closer to its vision to change the world.

“When we first started Andela, even those who loved and believed in us thought it was a bit crazy. But with every partnership, we’re proving to the world that brilliance is evenly distributed and has nothing to do with nationality or gender. Soon, the demographic challenges that many associate with Africa will instead become an advantage. Increasingly, African technologists will be leading companies solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges and, simultaneously, reversing age-old misconceptions about talent and potential”, the company said in a statement.

“In July of 2014, Andela put out a call for aspiring software developers in Nigeria. Through Twitter alone, we received 700 applicants, interviewed a few dozen, and accepted six to join Andela’s first cohort in Lagos.

“That month, we also met Pule Taukobong. A few weeks later, as head of the Africa Angels Network, he became Andela’s first institutional investor from the continent.

“Three years later, Andela has grown to nearly 800 people across four countries. We’ve received more than 70,000 applicants and accepted the top 0.7% — around 500 developers to date — and more than 100 of the world’s leading tech companies depend on Andela developers from Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda.”

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