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El-Rufai: How Vodafone recorded its ‘biggest’ investment mistake in Nigeria

Governor Nasir El-Rufai has disclosed how Vodafone failed to invest in Nigeria despite having the backing of former President Obasanjo. 

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El-Rufai: How Vodafone recorded its ‘biggest’ investment mistake in Nigeria, FG concludes plan to borrow N2 trillion from Pension Fund, Infrastructure: Tapping into pensions funds - a step in the right direction? 

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has disclosed how telecommunication company, Vodafone failed to invest in Nigeria at a time despite having the backing of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

El-Rufai recounted that prior to the arrival of MTN and ECONET, Vodafone was approached by the Nigerian government but the telecommunication company never saw the potentials in the Nigerian market.

According to the Kaduna State Governor, as reported by Guardian, the telecoms journey started with the late dictator, General Sani Abacha, but he couldn’t achieve much because of his death in June 1998.

El-Rufai: How Vodafone recorded its ‘biggest’ investment mistake in Nigeria

El-Rufai said, “Though Abacha issued one GSM licence, which we waited for to switch on, but the firm never did, till Abacha died.

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 “Then came General Abdulsalam Abubakar. There was one Ibrahim Aliyu, who was the chairman of Intercellular, and later former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications, who later became most senior adviser to Abubakar, so he was able to prevail on the Head of State, and some telecommunications sector’s move were facilitated. But still, nothing concrete was achieved until President Olusegun Obasanjo came on board.”

[READ MORE: How the CBN’s OMO restriction is affecting the market]

El-Rufai stated that when Obasanjo was in power, some telecoms experts, including Titi Omo-Ettu, Shola Taylor, and others in Diaspora, submitted a memorandum to the then President, appealing to him to license GSM operators.

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While the appeal was on, El-Rufai was appointed the Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), and was charged to privatise everything including NITEL.

The governor explained that in 2000, while President Obasanjo was in a hurry to issue GSM licences, “he called me and the then Minister of Communications, and said: ‘I want to issue one GSM licence for $1 to any major operator, who do you recommend?’ 

“I said to President Obasanjo,Vodafone! Vodafone then was the largest mobile operator in the world. He picked the phone, called the then Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair, and he said that some Nigerian delegation are coming to Britain to make presentation on the opportunities in Nigeria’s telecoms market and that Vodafone should be made to receive us. We went and met with the officials of Vodafone and we made our presentation.”

[READ ALSO: Mr Biggs rebrands, launches new model restaurants across Nigeria]

A few weeks after the presentation, El-Rufai said they were able to get a response from Vodafone.

The telco indicated that they wouldn’t invest in the country due to the fact that the market was too minute for them.

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He said, “we got a reply letter from Vodafone. They said they have looked at our presentation, their analysts have looked at it and the forecast is that the Nigeria GSM market is just about five million subscribers in 36 states. That is the size of the market will just be five million subscribers. That only five million people, in general, can afford to pay for GSM service in three years. According to them, the market was so small; Nigeria you are so poor to afford a mobile phone.”

Obasanjo backs Buhari's border closure commitment 

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

El-Rufai said the story changed when MTN and ECONET came on board, adding that within the first year of operations, they had over five million subscribers.

“This was Vodafone’s biggest investment mistake, because if they had come into Nigeria at that time, God’s know how much bigger they would have been today,” he stated.

Chidinma holds a degree in Mass communication from Caleb University Lagos and a Masters in view in Public Relations. She strongly believes in self development which has made her volunteer with an NGO on girl child development. She loves writing, reading and travelling. You may contact her via - [email protected]

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Energy

NNPC says local operators must improve capacity to achieve low cost of oil production

The NNPC has mandated local oil companies to improve capacity to so as to reduce oil production cost.

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NNPC unveils covid-19 contacts tracing app, marketers to buy petroleum products online

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that indigenous companies operating in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector must upscale their capacity for global competitiveness in order to achieve the target of reducing the cost of oil production in Nigeria on a sustainable basis.

This was disclosed by the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, at a virtual stakeholder’s consultative summit which was organized by the Senate Committee on Local Content.

According to a press release by NNPC, which was signed by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, the NNPC GMD said that there was need to amend the Local Content Act to reflect current realities in the industry.

Kyari, who was represented by the Group General Manager, Corporate Planning & Strategy (CP&S), Mrs Eyesan Oritsemeyiwa, argued that there was a need to have a legislation to resolve the issues of funding challenges faced by local players, stressing that oil and gas business required high technical skills and competence to compete favourably at the global stage.

Speaking further on the need for greater capacity building on the part of indigenous companies, the GMD said the nation’s education system has a great role to play in the development of highly skilled technical manpower, adding that any legislation on Nigerian content development that fails to embrace issues of investment in the educational system was not likely to achieve much.

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He said, “In terms of the interaction between industry and education, we think these new bills would present a good model that we should work with. People are the greatest assets of any nation. If you have the best brains in the industry today, as long as you are not getting a good replacement for them from the educational sector when they grow old and retire, then your industry will collapse,”

The NNPC boss pointed out that the nation has made some good progress from the era when there was no single indigenous operator in the oil and gas industry to the current situation where local operators have risen to double digits, stressing that the trend should be encouraged.

He praised the National Assembly’s initiative to review and amend the Local Content Act and urged the committee to ensure that it is carried out in a timely fashion in order for the law to deliver maximum value for the nation.

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The GMD commended the legislators for the plan to extend the local content law beyond the oil and gas industry to other sectors of the nation’s economy, stressing that it would open up the non-oil sectors to growth and development.

The local content initiative has been identified as being very critical to the development of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector as the Federal Government plans to reduce the cost of production of crude oil to $10 per barrel in the face of the recent crash in crude oil prices.

The Federal Government has provided the sum of $350 million as the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to help support local participation in the oil and gas sector.

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Energy

NNPC signs gas development and commercialization deal with SEEPCO

NNPC and SEEPCO have signed a gas development and commercialization deal.

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FG to give up majority stakes in its 4 refineries, to be privately managed, NNPC, Pipeline Vandalism: Stakeholder collaboration, critical to tame menace - Kyari, Nigeria explains when it will fully comply with OPEC+ output cut

The state oil giant, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has signed a gas development deal with Sterling Exploration and Energy Production Company (SEEPCO).

The agreement between the 2 oil firm is for the development and commercialization of gas from Oil Mining Lease (OML) 143 that could help reduce gas flaring in the country.

The disclosure was contained in a press statement that was issued by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Dr Kennie Obateru, on Saturday, September 26, 2020, in Abuja.

According to the statement, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Malam Mele Kyari, while speaking at the agreement-signing ceremony which held at the NNPC Towers, described the execution of the deal as a great milestone as well as a testament to NNPC’s commitment to facilitating the nation’s transformation into a gas-powered economy.

Kyari disclosed that the deal would not only help reduce gas flaring and its environmental hazards but would also promote gas production and utilization in the domestic market.

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The NNPC boss also commended SEEPCO for its unwavering commitment to gas development and commercialization in the country which has led to the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle that will help expand gas utilization in the country as a cleaner, cheaper and more reliable alternative form of energy.

On his part, the Chairman of SEEPCO, Mr Tony Chukwueke, described the deal as an essential partnership that would help the company fulfil the pledge it made to support the efforts of the Nigerian government to eliminate gas flaring by monetizing it.

He commended NNPC and the Group Managing Director for ensuring the execution of the agreement which he described central to the achievement of the company’s cardinal objective of boosting the production of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), condensate and dry gas for the Nigerian market, adding that the company has invested about $600 million for that purpose.

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This is coming at a time when the Federal Government is shifting focus to gas utilization as an alternative source of energy especially with the increase in the retail pump price of petrol. This is one of the various initiatives by the government as represented by the NNPC towards providing alternative sources of energy.

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Energy

Buhari reappoints 3 Chief Executives of agencies under Federal Ministry of Petroleum

3 Chief Executive Officers of agencies under the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources have been reappointed.

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BREAKING: President Buhari retains portfolio as Petroleum Minister

President Muhammadu Buhari has renewed the appointment of 3 Chief Executive Officers of parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources with immediate effect.

The appointments that were renewed by the president include that of Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau as the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Ahmed Bobboi as the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) and Simbi Wabote as Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

The disclosure was made through a series of tweet posts by the presidency on its official Twitter handle on Friday, September 25, 2020.

The statement disclosed that the renewal of the appointments followed recommendations to the President by the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Syla.

It stated that Dr Aliyu Gusau was credited to have run the PTDF successfully in the past four years, keeping faith with the Seven Strategic Priorities he had introduced in January 2017.

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These are Domestication, Cost cutting, Sustainable funding, Efficient internal processes, Linkages with the industry, Utilization of centres of excellence, and Pursuit of home-grown research.

It also stated that Bobboi got his reappointment for having run PEF in a way that made it a key and strategic player in the administration’s oil and gas reforms, especially in stabilizing the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country, among others.

Going further, it stated that the NCDMB boss, Wabote, won his pips for managing the NCDMB and completing its headquarters building. Wabote was also credited to have initiated many landmark projects that were widely commended by industry players.

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