Ahead of the Nigeria Digital Conference-NigeriaCom, See what the Speakers are saying

      As  preparations intensify for the 4th edition of the leading Nigeria Digital Conference-The NigeriaCom Conference holding between October 17 and 18 in Lagos Nigeria, we …

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As  preparations intensify for the 4th edition of the leading Nigeria Digital Conference-The NigeriaCom Conference holding between October 17 and 18 in Lagos Nigeria, we bring to you what some of the leading speakers are saying as the NigeriaCom team caught up with them:

Speaker Interview with Steven Evans

Steven Evans is the CEO of Etisalat Nigeria

Com World Series: How is your company positioned in Nigeria and what are its future objectives?

Steven Evans: When we launched commercial operations in 2008, we had one goal in mind – to turn around the telecoms industry, exceeding every Nigerian’s expectation of what a telecom organization should be. We went ahead to develop Etisalat’ s business strategy based on four strategic elements – Innovation, Quality of Service, Customer Focus and Efficiency/Value for Money.

With these core pillars The Etisalat team operate on a daily basis with an outstanding sense of Customer Centricity – this along with Innovation (in products & services) has become the major positioning of the brand.

The Etisalat brand has also enjoyed an amazing affinity with the youth market to date and has a phenomenal percentage of its base between the ages of 18 – 24. Moving forward, we intend to continue to push this affinity with innovative products and services that speak directly to our customers.

Com World Series: What do you think are the top 3 major trends that are affecting your business in the region in 2013?

Steven Evans: The top 3 trends here can only be summarised with the phrase “Data, Data and more Data”!

As voice revenues level out, data, over well designed, well deployed, well managed 3G networks, is the next frontier for telecoms in Nigeria. Market growth in this 3G era is a major focus with over 55% (nearly 8 Million) of our subscriber base being data users.

This evolving behavior means the market, our customers need data-driven propositions, tariffs, content and Apps that provide a new and exciting communications experience. Recent launches like our very popular EasyFlex tariff, an exclusive partnership with award winning music App Spinlet and collaborations with major device manufacturers for low cost smartphones all tick our brand values of Innovation & Customer Focus ensuring improved data usage on the network.

The quality of our network, and therefore our service, is the key to unlocking the potential of our base and so we have a very aggressive focus on utilising the best possible network solutions to lead in this market.

Com World Series: How are Smartphones/tablets and cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in Nigeria?

Steven Evans: In comparison to markets in the West, Smartphone penetration in Nigeria is relatively low at around 15%.

Key to driving the goals mentioned above will be the right device choices for our customers. We recently launched a new, low-cost Android Smartphone with Chinese device manufacturer, Techno. This move puts more and more data-enabled devices in the hands of the Nigerian Subscriber, driving our market forward.

Com World Series: What are the remaining challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of service in the region and which technologies are most likely to resolve these issues?

Steven Evans: Power is the most disruptive issue for all mobile operators in the region.  The lack of a viable, existing structure for power and fixed-line telecommunications presents a huge challenge to network expansion and improvement. Moving forward, efforts must focus on feasible solutions to extend networks and manage traffic in the absence of these basic structures. Fibre, Wi-Fi and LTE will be key to reaching the market’s full potential.

Com World Series: Who are you most looking forward to meeting/hearing from and what do you hope to achieve from taking part in NigeriaCom?

Steven Evans: The concept of the event itself, bringing together the ecosystem of the Nigerian telecommunications market is an exciting one. Well done Informa! I’d have to say I am certainly looking forward to hearing from our Minister of Communications and the Regulator on how they will continue to successfully collaborate on driving this great success story. Inevitably, contributions from my operator peers will be insightful as we increasingly team-up to face some of our shared challenges. Finally, as this ecosystem expands, I’m excited to understand how we can better serve our client base with innovative partnerships on content and mobile functionality.

 

Speaker Interview with Deepak Srivastava

Deepak Srivastava is the COO for Airtel Nigeria.

Com World Series: How is your company positioned in Nigeria and what are its future objectives?

Deepak Srivastava: Airtel is positioned as the operator of first choice for Nigerians with a corporate vision of becoming the most loved brand in the daily lives of Nigerians. Currently, we have the largest 3.75G Network in Nigeria with footprint in all the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), recently, rated us the fastest growing data operator in Nigeria and we keep scoring several series of firsts in terms of network innovation and modernization. Without a doubt, one of our key objectives is to be the Mobile Broadband service provider of first choice for Nigerians. We aim to achieve this by empowering the communities we operate in with the latest network technology. In the past 30 months, we have invested close to $2bn in network upgrade and innovation and we shall keep investing in Nigeria in line with our aspiration of becoming the most loved brand in the country.

Com World Series: What do you think are the top 3 major trends that are affecting your business in the region in 2013?

Deepak Srivastava: Certainly, high penetration of smartphones is defining the mobile telephony landscape. The transition from voice to data keeps gaining traction and this is changing the game. You must also single out the extreme and huge demand for mobile broadband.  A clear case in point is the NCC’s recent report that ascribed over 90% growth rate to Airtel in terms of data/Internet services in a six month period. Thirdly, Nigerians have a large population of youth. The youths are early adopters with a large appetite for mobile broadband.

Com World Series: What are the remaining challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of services in the region and which technologies are most likely to resolve these issues?

Deepak Srivastava: Well, the issues are already well documented and they include poor, unreliable and erratic public power supply, frequent cases of vandalisation and fibre-cut, multiple-taxation, multiple regulation, insecurity in the North and we saw cases of extreme flooding from many States in the South last year. In terms of solutions, Airtel has adopted solar based solutions in powering our network and we are currently asking for the declaration of telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure.

Com World Series: How are smartphones/tablets and cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in Nigeria?

Deepak Srivastava: Nigeria is moving fast towards the direction of a connected society. This is a positive and interesting development. Most network providers are adopting a data-focused approach. With huge demand for data, it is definitely interesting times for broadband service providers.

Com World Series: In your opinion, which companies are spearheading innovation in the region and what can be learnt from them?

Deepak Srivastava: There have several interesting developments especially in the areas of ICT and Internet/data. We have seen a lot of interesting development in the online retail space with emergence of players like Konga and Jumia. We have also seen a lot of local apps developers with strong Nigerian presence. The truth is, Nigeria is full of entrepreneurs and this has played itself out in the Internet/data space.

Com World Series: Who are you most looking forward to meeting/hearing from and what do you hope to achieve from taking part in NigeriaCom?

Deepak Srivastava: With NigeriaCom, it is always a great learning experience. The atmosphere is usually electrifying and choice of speakers always great. Personally, I will like to enjoy the show and pay attention to everyone because with NigeriaCom, you are always sure of a quality line-up of speakers

 

 Speaker Interview with Obi Asika

Obi Asika is the CEO of Storm 360.

Com World Series: How is your company positioned in Nigeria and what are its future objectives?

I am focused on content and the ability of mobile to deliver across many segments, from education to music, from movies to comedy and sports, we have been in the forefront of validating authentic and original Nigerian content and we want to be in the forefront of monetising it, mobile is disrupting all the media industries and in Nigeria we want to be amongst those early players who are able to  ride the changes and take advantage.

In this regard the importance of social media is key and one will share insights from the inaugural Social Media Week Lagos held in Feb 2013 and i believe that the advent of e-commerce 2012-2 in Nigeria and the growth of cashless banking and retail are all moving us forward to even more reliance on mobile devices.

Com World Series: What do you think are the top 3 major trends that are affecting your business in the region in 2013?

I think everybody is beginning to understand the importance of local and relevant content, no point having 110m devices if you cannot offer them unique experiences, the increased speed of broadband is critical and one is watching the advance of LTE, and firms such as Binu and others who are focusing on the feature phones, in Africa and Nigeria one must not get too carried away with smart phones when 80% of the market is feature phones but must be prepared for this to turn around massively over the next 18months

Com World Series: What are the remaining challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of services in the region and which technologies are most likely to resolve these issues?

Again as above  the key issue now would be network capacity and quality for the mno’s and then broadband access and speed for consumers, it will be very interesting to see how LTE plays out in Nigeria and of course as mentioned some of the companies working on compression technology to enable content be experienced on feature phones as well. We are clearly moving into the era when Data will dominate all conversations and Nigeria is clearly in massive need of data services and content.

Com World Series: How are smartphones/tablets and cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in Nigeria?

At the elite level there is enormous adoption but these numbers will still be small compared to the entire market, however these tools are in the hands of managers, entreupeuners, and companies, soon i expect public institutions to become more automated, it is interesting to see what states like Ekiti are doing with their OPON_IMO educational project where they are providing tablets to secondary school students, i think we will see a lot happening with these devices and education and health services delivery in Nigeria. I think this is a space everyone needs to watch especially all the developers working on local tablets but the key will be their ability to scale and move forward to meet mass demand and perhaps challenge established models.

Com World Series: In your opinion, which companies are spearheading innovation in the region and what can be learnt from them?

I think Etisalat, Samsung, Techno, Huawei, are amongst the leaders in this regard and i think its about mindset and how they penetrate and work with the local community and focus on the needs and aspirations of their consumers and target markets locally, those who make the effort to differentiate their offerings for the local consumer is always likely to win in any market. I think brands such as mi-fone who are launching their devices into this market should serve as a lesson for local entreupeuners, they build their own brand and are now competing, we cannot always be receivers of product surely. In terms of content and services one must continue to watch the various hubs especially CC Hub and some of the outcomes, i must mention Tony Elumelu Foundation and also Nokia who supported the release of the Efiko app and again this is both disruptive and innovative.

Com World Series: Who are you most looking forward to meeting/hearing from and what do you hope to achieve from taking part in NigeriaCom?

I think my primary interest is to engage and dig further into the ecosystem to see how we can create better, stronger, multi-purpose content that works on mobile and is relevant for our primary audience, how we can do this and monetise it and make it first national, then continental and finally global, these are my primary objectives and i am keen to engage and hear from all who have done this already and those who are interested in the power of our content and by this i focus on Nigerian content (from music to movies, from sports to comedy, from motivational to religious, there is a huge opportunity beckoning and i believe there are new models to drive further investment and revenue opportunities for all the stakeholders in the ecosystem.

 

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