In an exclusive interview with Nairametrics, MD of MainOne cable systems, Ms Funke Opeke discussed the past present and future plans. The interview took place on the sidelines of the Broadband summit organized by Businessday newspapers. She discusses a variety of issues from her outlook on the telecommunications industry and dealing with tough days as a CEO. She also sheds light on the three qualities that she looks for when hiring staff.
On Current state and Outlook for the telecoms industry
Nigeria is currently lagging behind South Africa and Kenya in terms of Information and Communication Technology. Ease of doing business, building infrastructure, security and multiple taxes are issues that have to be sorted for the industry to move forward. Infrastructure sharing is the way to go. Information and Communication technology has to be a central part of the country’s growth agenda.
The company has no plans to embark on supplying of last mile (direct data services) to the retail consumer. Ms Opeke believes Nigeria has a decent number of mobile operators, and the company would rather provide services to them. On its data centres, the company was seeing an uptick in the number of users on its platforms, though its services were slightly expensive due to the power challenges in the country. Due to the volatility in the exchange rate, the company is in the process of winding down its foreign debt obligations and increase exposure to Naira loans. More so, as most of its customers paid for its services in Naira.
MainOne is not yet profitable, but the company is currently focused on growing and making strategic investments that will pay off in the future.
MainOne is putting finishing touches on its data centre in Sagamu. The company is currently awaiting permits to commence work on its infraco licence in Lagos state. Main one would also be interested in a national infrastructure company licence. In respect of expansion, the company is open to expansion across Nigeria and West Africa. Since it was yet to attain profitability,
Qualities she looks for when hiring.
Passion, integrity and a commitment to self improvement, are qualities she looks for when hiring staff. Staff who are passionate and have a zeal for self improvement, are of great benefit to a growing company like main one.
Handling bad days.
Like every other person, she has had days she feels like giving up. Her drive is seeing the companies she works with achieving great things. In addition to being a business, the company is also keen on developing Nigeria.
On challenges with Starting up MainOne
Raising capital initially was a difficult process according to Ms Opeke. In the early years, the market was uncertain. The company had a business plan and its investors believed in its growth potentials.