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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nigeria shines @ AfricaCom’11


The 14th edition of the AfricaCom ended in the city of Cape Town, South Africa recently, with some Nigerian companies participating actively in the three-day event, wrapped up with accolades.

Leading the pack were MTN, Etisalat and MainOne companies, who were adjudged notable enterprises in various capacities.

For Etisalat Nigeria, the outline of its major Capital and Operational expenditures (CAPEX and OPEX) respectively stood the mobile operator out in reduction of its expenditure profile.

According to the Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Steven Evans, the major initiatives which operators could take to reduce Capital and Operational expenditure (CAPEX and OPEX) and benefit the customers and could result in reductions of tariffs, increased coverage of networks as well as greater profitability for the operators has been the top secret of the mobile operator survival strategy in Nigeria.

He also said, during his presentation entitled ‘Operator Strategies to reduce CAPEX and OPEX in Africa’, that the company has already undertaken a number of major CAPEX and OPEX reduction initiatives such as co-location and hybrid power and was actively considering others like transmission sharing and sales and leaseback of towers.

In the Commercial arena, he said, Etisalat has also embarked on a number of operational efficiency initiatives such as optimizing retail outlet formats and migrating to over the air recharges for prepaid customers.

At Etisalat, he noted, the aim has been to develop ways of making more efficient use of available resources to achieve the best results.

“For instance, we have been propounding the philosophy of co-location in Nigeria and are happy to say that we have made significant progress with one of the other major operators in the country,” he declared, stressing that this has given rise to an extensive co-location agreement and a good deal for both parties and the country in general.

This, he further said, has led to a reduction of resources channeled to erecting new towers and the opportunity to cover more communities and areas.

Evans observed that tower sale and leaseback as an excellent way of releasing capital to invest in core activities such as customer acquisition, management and retention as well as increasing the number of significant tower deals by African tower companies.

“Operators in the telecommunications industry are not required to own their towers in order to have effective operations. Towers can be owned and managed by third party specialist tower companies. A major advantage of this is that capital is saved and re-invested in the growth of business, network expansion and improved services” he said.

For MainOne it was a shared glory as it jointly won the ‘Best Pan African Initiative’ at AfricaCom Awards 2011 with SeaCom.

Both MainOne and SeaCom, were seen as the only two privately funded and open-access based African submarine fibre optic cable systems.

The award, ITRealms Online gathered, recognises an initiative taken by an organisation or a group of organisations to improve telecommunications services at a regional or continental level.

Responding to the award, the chief executive officer of MainOne, Ms Funke Opeke, pointed out that through this partnership, Main One and SeaCom have extended their individual cable systems to the opposite coasts of Africa without the efforts required to construct brand new routes.

“The ability to connect the east and west coast of the continent directly results in improved throughput but also provides a system around most of the continent which provides improved redundancy for telecommunications operators,” she said.

And for the her SeaCom counterpart, Mr. Mark Simpson, it is an honour to be recognised once again for the efforts in continuously extending pan-African connectivity by investing in infrastructure, products and services that meet the continent’s insatiable demand for bandwidth.

“This partnership shows our determination to find viable ways to extend our system with partners who share our vision of building the African Internet on an open and equitable basis,” he said.

ITRealms Online recalled that Main One and SeaCom had proclaimed in May 2011 that they had interconnected their west and east African cable systems to launch capacity services from Point of Presence (PoP) to PoP, from a Synchronous Transport Module level-1 (STM-1) and above.

While POP is an interface between telecommunication entities as a telephony system term, the STM-1 is the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T) fiber optic network transmission standard with a bit rate of 155.52 Mbit/s.

This partnership, experts noted, extends the MainOne and SeaCom networks to create a system that offers connection between any SeaCom and MainOne PoPs all around Africa.

Now in its fourth year, the awards are a serious recognition of the commitment and professionalism of these finalists to their core business and to changing the landscape of the continent, for the better.

And for the leading mobile operator on the continent, MTN Group which has its largest footprint in the country was recognised for its innovation and market leadership, emerging with two awards from the AfricaCom 2011.

Even as MTN South Africa received awards for the ‘Best Network Improvement’, for the Long Term Evolution (LTE) pilot test in Gauteng province and ‘Best Marketing Campaign (dubbed Bow Wow) for MTN Zone.

Responding, the Chief Marketing Officer for MTN South Africa, Mr. Serame Taukobong, said the mobile operator’s ecstatic has once again gained this important recognition with these awards, which she dedicated to thousands of MTN employees, its partners and customers who shared the MTN vision.

“The accolades are further affirmation from the industry and our customers that we are on the right track and need to cement the work we have been doing to provide our customers with the seamless experience they have come to expect from MTN,” he said.

MTN was also shortlisted for six of the eleven awards categories, with MTN South Africa vying for four awards, namely, Best Network Improvement Award, Changing Lives Award, Customer Service Excellence Awards and Best Marketing Campaign. MTN Group was shortlisted for the Best Pan Africa Initiative for Mtnfootball.com, while MTN Nigeria and MTN Uganda & Alvarion were nominated for the Rural Telecoms Award for their Rural Telephony Business and Rural Internet Cafes projects respectively.

“We are immensely proud of the two awards received by MTN South Africa. In the same vein, we are equally filled with pride to have been shortlisted for a total of six awards across four areas of our business. For MTN, these awards are an important recognition of the tireless efforts put in by MTNers and our partners across the continent to bridge the digital divide in the countries we operate,” said Christian De Faria, Group Chief Commercial Officer.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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