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Telcos Decries High Tower Rentals Cost, Data Tariff

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Telecoms
  • Telcos Decries High Tower Rentals Cost, Data Tariff

High cost of tower rental as well as unregulated data price have conspired to hobble internet service delivery, according to some telecommunications operators and internet service providers.

Tower rental is a business strategy adopted by telecommunications industry where telecommunications infrastructure companies own and maintain towers and allow operators to use at a fee which are usual per annual.

Today, there are three major players in that space: IHS with 14,000 towers; Helios with 2,000 towers; and the new entrant American Towers Company (ATC) with 7,000 towers. David Venn, chief executive officer, Spectranet, a 4G LTE internet service provider, told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that the two key areas of challenge to internet service providers are data price and high tower rentals.

“Since the botched data floor policy of Nigerian Communications Commission, it has become difficult for ISPs and Telcos delivery internet service to operate profitably. We are seeking the review of that policy by the authorities to enable operators deliver quality service and continue to be in business.”
“Another biggest challenge we are facing today is cost of tower rentals which has continued to increase over the year. It is funny, that international capacity cost has reduced by 50 per cent while tower rental cost is increasing unabated. Imagine a situation where cost of tower rental in three times our salary cost,” he added.He explained that the tower rental contract is usually signed for a period of 5 to 10 years with a clause of annual cost review based on inflation.

“Today, inflation in the country has risen by over 100 per cent necessitating the astronomical increase in the cost of tower rental in the country making the cost in Nigeria the highest in the world,” he said.

He noted that the failure of Multi-Link was as a result of tower rental indebtedness to a tower company-Helios Tower which eventually took over the company.Sunday Folayan, president, Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), said that tower rental cost in the country will not be cheap as it is determined by some factors which include number of user on the tower as well as power and security provided in the base stations.

“I’m not surprise that tower rental cost is high because the cost of powering base stations with generators is high. If we fix power problem in this country every other thing will take shape,” he added.

Corroborating Venn on data price, Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) added that the industry regulator needs to revisit the data price floor to determine the appropriate data pricing to ensure that investors have certainty in government policies in order for them to bring capital that will be used for infrastructure deployment required for broadband.

“This is important in view of 30 percent broadband target by end of 2018 which we have just over one year to achieve. It is important that the industry sees government policies as one that creates an enabling environment for businesses to thrive so that investors can bring funds to invest for the development of the sector.”

Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) also called on NCC to revisit the data floor price determination in order to save and encourage small operators in the sector.

“Data floor price determination is meant for small operators not for big operators who will still survive with the present situation. We are trying to avoid a situation where CDMA operators died because of price war. If data price is determined, it will encourage small operators in the sector. We need to look at it beyond public sentiment and emotions around it and revisit the issue for the growth of the industry,” he said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Telecommunications

Glo Enriches Customers’ Experience With Glo Café

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globacom

In line with its commitment to delivering value, National Telecommunications Company, Globacom has unveiled Glo café, a self-care application that offers customers a convenient self-service channel to manage their accounts.

Globacom, in a statement in Lagos, said that the newly repackaged app was designed to unify Glo services under one platform, thus empowering Glo subscribers to manage their mobile accounts hassle-free.

“It is a one-stop entertainment shop with unfettered access to a plethora of content covering video, music, sports, comedy, celebrity news and gist. The Glo Café is available for FREE on Web, Google Play Store and Apple App Store”. Glo said.

The company explained that its extensive research into the needs of customers, their understanding and requirements for a simple and time-efficient platform offering customer support underscored the need for the development of the app.

It added that “The launch of Glo Café is part of our efforts to deliver the best customer experience in the digital space and empower customers with a convenient, non-intrusive and 24/7 available channel of support. The self-care app is a simple, secure and convenient way for Glo mobile customers to access a whole host of functionalities- buying, sharing and gifting of data, borrowing credit and data, recharging any Glo account and paying postpaid bills, accessing Value Added Services (VAS), among other things”.

Glo customers will also have access to a world-class gaming portfolio, and easy access to customer support – including direct contact to call center executives, raising service-related requests, chatting with agents, etc, in addition to entertainment content including top-rated music, videos, comedy and sports.

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Fintech

Adebola Sanni: FinTech, Solution to Africa’s Financial Inclusion Problems

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Financial inclusion and provision of sustainable energy is at a turning point in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria. With a population of over 200 million, about 50 per cent of the total population live in rural areas, and only 39 per cent of those living in rural communities have access to electricity. This is in addition to over 40 per cent of the entire population who are financially excluded or underserved.

However, the proliferation of digital financial services in Nigeria – powered largely by growth in fin-tech companies – has catalysed an unparalleled increase in the current number of people with access to formal financial services, while further opening up opportunities to address power supply challenges across rural communities; a major feat instrumental towards achieving the broad Sustainable Development Goal 7. With over 200 fin-tech companies in operation within its borders, Africa’s largest economy has found a way to target and capture over 40 per cent of its financially excluded or underserved population.

In a conversation with Adebola Sanni, co-founder, Infibranches Technologies and the Group Head, Business Development & Partnerships at Swifta Systems and Services, she highlighted the growing awareness of the transformative power of fin-tech and how if properly harnessed can help address both problems of financial inclusion and the more pressing sustainability challenges in the area of affordable and reliable power supply needed to drive the growth of local economies.

“Fintech has increasingly provided innovative ways to address existing gaps in the availability, accessibility and use of finance particularly among the unbanked population. By leveraging the proliferation of technology, agent banking and mobile money solutions now offer affordable, instant, and reliable transactions, savings, credit across rural communities where no bank had ever established a branch. Similarly, about 75 million Nigerians who mostly fall within the financially underserved or excluded demography live without reliable electricity access as the existing electrical grid serves largely the country’s urban population.”

“We understand how pivotal the provision of sustainable power is to driving growth of local economies in rural communities and by extension the need to boost financial services penetration across these communities. These are both enablers for catalysing positive transformation and driving sustainable economic progress across the country.”

Adebola, a leading business strategist and technology consultant also said, “To address these challenges, we believe distributed energy solutions that leverage digital payments will open up opportunities to reach the underserved market at low cost.”

We partnered NGOs, including Shell Foundation, USAID, to extend agent networks together with off grid energy providers in 2019 where we set up about 200 agent locations across Nigeria, identifying communities across the rural and peri-urban regions with needs for both power and financial services. We also partnered renewable energy companies such as Green Light Planet (Sun King), D.Light Solar, Sosai, PAS BBoxx, Konexa to set up payment points necessary to expand access to highly subsidized power for such communities.

“This solution provides affordable home solar systems to rural communities with an affordable and convenient payment structure where beneficiaries pay as low as N500 (less than $2 dollar a month) which allows for people to pay off the cost in a year to fully own the solar equipment.”

Till date, over 400,000 people have been impacted across 22 States and 108 local government areas in Nigeria through various initiatives supporting energy access especially in rural areas. The addition of the ‘Solar Power Naija project’ by the Federal government initiative under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) and managed by REA, for off-grid communities, will further expand energy access to 25 million individuals through the provision of Solar Home Systems (SHS) or connection to a mini grid. This is a good initiative to help expand energy access faster.

One of the success stories underpinning how providing innovative energy solutions can transform communities is the Havenhills mini-grid project in Kigbe community located in Kwali Local Government Area Council, Abuja. Before executing the project, the Kigbe community with geographical limitations had no electricity as they were completely off-grid. The project upon completion delivered a 20KW solar enabled mini-grid through 3km 3-phases and 1-phase grid lines to 145 homes, enabling them to power basic electrical appliances such as light bulbs, fans and TVs. The project also supports 5 local businesses including a barbing salon, grocery store and viewing center.

As part of creating sustainable economic empowerment, Adebola Sanni, who has strong passion for financial inclusion and energy access, has facilitated the implementation of a pioneer digital infrastructure that supports micro insurance, pension and savings providers and the first API infrastructure that aggregates renewable energy products and services making them accessible to any payment service providers, banks and other financial and non-financial institutions.

She is vastly experienced in driving growth, creating market focused products and providing innovative solutions to businesses in Financial Technology, eCommerce, Telco and Private/Publics sectors as well creating partnership opportunities for growth.

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E-commerce

Jumia’s Gross Merchandise Value Drops 13 Percent in Q1 2021 Despite Lockdown

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Jumia - Investors King

Jumia, Africa’s leading online marketplace, recorded a 13 percent decline in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) from €189.6 million in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020 to €165.0 million in the first quarter of 2021.

This was despite Amazon, Alibaba and other global e-commerce companies posting high GMV due to the surge in online orders because of ongoing movement restrictions in most nations.

Annual Active Consumers rose by 6.9 percent to 6.9 million in the quarter under review, up from 6.4 million in the same quarter of 2020, the leading e-commerce stated in its financial statements.

Orders grew by 3 percent year on year to 6.6 million from 6.4 million posted in the corresponding quarter of 2021.

Gross profit expanded by 10.9 percent from €18.4 million in Q1 2020 to €20.4 million in Q1 2021. While gross profit after fulfillment expense rose by 149.5 percent to €6.2 million, up from €2.5 million achieved in Q1 2021.

Sales and advertising expense moderated to €8.1 million in the quarter under review, representing a decline of 9.1 percent from €8.9 million posted in Q1 2020.

Technology and content expense stood at €6.9 million in Q1 2021, below €7.2 million in Q1 2020. G&A expense, excluding SBC improved from €24.4 million decline posted in Q1 2020 to €20.3 million decline in Q1 2021.

Adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) also improved by 24.2 percent to a €27 million decline in Q1 2021 from €35.6 million.

Similarly, operating loss improved by 23 percent from €43.7 million posted in Q1 2020 to €33.7 million in Q1 2021.

Commenting on the company’s performance Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec, Co-Chief Executive Officers of Jumia, said “Our first quarter results reflect solid progress towards profitability. The drivers remain consistent: selective and disciplined usage growth, gradual monetization and continued cost discipline. The first quarter of 2021 was the sixth consecutive quarter of positive gross profit after fulfillment expense, which reached €6.2 million, more than doubling year-over-year, while Adjusted EBITDA loss contracted by 24% year-over-year, reaching €27.0 million”.

“Our strategy to increase our exposure to everyday product categories continues to yield positive results, enhancing the relevance of our marketplace for consumers. We are making further inroads in payment and fintech with 37% of Orders in the first quarter of 2021 completed using JumiaPay. Last but not least, we have raised over $570 million over the past six months, strengthening our balance sheet and increasing our strategic flexibility.

“We are confident we have all the right ingredients to continue to build a growing business across both our e-commerce and fintech activities.”

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