Nothing can be more frustrating than a hitched and bumpy browsing experience. It is even more annoying when this is experienced while trying to get something really important and urgent done, not just having a random surf of the internet.
Most often, we are quick to point accusing fingers at the MDs and CEOs of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and why not? They are the public figures associated with the company, after all – for good or otherwise.
Today, we bring you the Chief Technical Officers (CTOs) of the leading ISPs. They are the tech-savvy guys who manage and maintain the technology infrastructure of the ISPs, and these are the things that really determine whether or not you have a hitch-free internet experience, or struggle to hold yourself from smashing your device on the floor.
These are the men you should call out next time you are having a sour experience online. They are also the ones who ensure your internet experience is great fueling your addiction to guzzle data.
They are rarely in the public eye, or in the office for that matter. Their main domain is the field, where they spend time fixing technical challenges or designing new infrastructure to enhance your experience.
Mohammed Ghidan – CTIO, Airtel Nigeria
Mohammed Ghidan was appointed Chief Technical & Information Technology Officer (CTIO) of Airtel Nigeria in March 2014.
He had worked as CTO of Orascom Telecom Algerie S.P.A. (VimpelCom) in Algeria, coordinating the network technology to service 17 million subscribers. Other experiences cut across mobile and fixed operations in different countries including Egypt, North Korea, Pakistan, Greece, Tunisia, Italy, and Canada.
This technician currently has over two decades of professional experience in the telecoms sector and has attended training programs in almost every country where he worked.
He is an Electrical and Electronics Graduate from Menufia University and has several other professional certifications.
Mohammed Rufai – CTO, MTN Nigeria
Mohammed Rufai was appointed as MTN Nigeria’s Chief Technical Officer (CTO) in May 2019, and immediately took responsibility for the company’s tech strategy roadmap.
He joined the company in 2002 as an RF/BTS Support Engineer in Kano, and his impressive results pushed him through the ranks to become General Manager in 2009. Given the high performance of the network operations team that he led, he was soon reassigned to MTN Ghana as Chief Technical Officer in 2015.
The company’s statement acknowledges that his tenure in Ghana saw data usage increase by over 900% and voice traffic almost triple, among other notable feats; this explains why he is a two-time winner of the ‘CTO of the Year’ award at the Ghana IT and Telecoms Awards (GITTA).
In May 2019, he returned as CTO, MTN Nigeria to work his magic in developing and maintaining the tech infrastructure.
Rufai has almost 20 years’ experience in Information and Communication Technology and Telecoms, all gained while in the employ of the MTN Group.
He holds a Bachelor of Technology degree in Computer Science from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, and professional certifications from the General Management Program at Cranfield University, the Global Advance Program at Duke Corporate Education, India, and the Senior Management Program at Lagos Business School.
Arun Panda – CTO, Spectranet Limited
Panda was appointed Chief Technical Officer of Spectranet in March 2015.
So far, this is the third company where he has held this position, as he had previously served as CTO in Libercell in Liberia, and Hits Telecom, Kuwait after the company acquired majority shareholding in Atlantic Wireless, Liberia and its brand, Libercell.
His nearly 30 years’ experience also includes 8 years spent at Reliance Communications Ltd as General Manager, Network Operations Centre, and another 8 years+ at the Indian Telecommunication Service, in the Department of Telecommunications (DOT).
He is a seasoned technical expert in centralised NOC operations, remote troubleshooting in Optical SDH network, installation & commissioning of TDM switches, RLUs, transmission MUX and other aspects of telecom service.
Arun Panda holds a B.Eng Electronics and Telcom, as well as Masters in Communication Systems and Engineering from the Sambalpur University in India.
Omoyeni Victor Collins – CTO, VDT Communications
Omoyeni Victor Collins joined VDT Communications in 2001 and headed the Technical and Operations department before he was appointed CTO.
His almost 20 years’ experience cuts across Networking design, Microwave design and installations, large-scale engineering projects in FTTH, SDH, and voice and data integration.
Victor holds a B.Eng in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Minna. He is a certified Microsoft Professional (MCP) and has other technical professional certifications, including ITIL and Cisco.
He is also an Alumnus of Lagos Business School and has undergone various Technical and Managerial training and seminars, both within and outside the country.
Paul Jaikaran – CTO MainOne
Paul Jaikaran is a British tech guru, with about 23 years of experience. He became Chief Technical Officer at MainOne, after holding the same position in three other companies: GSTelecom, Vodacom Business Africa, and ipNX.
His career did not start off in telecoms, but in the Shell Petroleum Group in UK, where he worked as a data network engineer. He occupied other positions within the SPDC and Shell Nigeria Exploration (deep water).
Some of his roles in the Shell Group include Operations, Network Design and Project Management.
All of these experiences contribute to make him proficient in network and data center planning, engineering and implementation/build-out, operations management, and network and service performance assurance.
He is a graduate of Imperial College (University of London), and holds an MSc in Communications Engineering.
Opeyemi Ajiboye – CTO, Tizeti Network (wifi.com)
Opeyemi joined Tizeti Network as CTO, after a stint with ipNX Nigeria, Infrastructure Division, where he was the pioneer Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He also doubled as Head, Engineering.
He has over 16 years’ experience in the technical communications industry and business operations and infrastructure. The earlier part of his career was spent at LM Ericsson in several positions: Senior Service Manager, Technical Sale of WCDMA, Service Delivery Line Manager for Access Network, Technical Lead on multiple projects; he managed service operations, and was Head, Network Rollout Implementation Management.
He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Ilorin, and MBA (Technical Management) and Diploma in Project Management from George Washington University.
He also participated in the Ericsson Management Development Programme and was Global Automation champion for Ericsson Sub Saharan Africa.
Akin Alayoku – CTO, Smile Communications Limited
Alayoku became CTO of Smile Communications in September 2017. Before then, he had worked as Director of Operations at Waters, and Principal Consultant at K.A Primewater.
His technical experience in the telecoms sector started with four years spent at Celtel Nigeria (now known as AIrtel Nigeria), where he was Supervisor, BSS Maintenance and Manager Network Maintenance, for two years each.
He subsequently spent over 6 years in MTN Nigeria, starting as Senior Manager, Network Region Coordination, then he became General Manager, Regional Operations, and finally, General Manager, Core Network Operations.
His input at the time was quite invaluable and helped position MTN Nigeria as the number one network operator in the country. Simply put, he was instrumental in bringing the ‘MTN, everywhere you go’ vision to life.
Akin bagged his first degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Ilorin, Kwara state, and Masters Degree in International Management from the University of Liverpool.
He has participated in several management programs, including Leading Strategic Growth and Change, and Finance and Accounting for non-Finance Executives, both at Columbia Business school, and the Risk Management for Corporate Leaders at the Harvard Business School.
Charles Oluwaseun Oluboyo – Chief Technical Architect (CTA), ipNX Limited
Oluwaseun Oluboyo is the man in charge of maintaining the technical infrastructure and architecture at ipNX limited. He assumed this position in 2014.
Before that time, he was Senior Manager, Research and Development, controlling the infrastructure services units, and new product lines in ipNX.
His experience in ipNX spans the last 15 years, in different positions. He was Manager, Media Hosting for about a year, and the Team Lead and Head of Unit, Media Hosting for another two years. He was also Software and Systems Engineer between 2004 and 2006.
Oluboyo is experienced in building core back-end systems, data center operations, and unified communications product lines, the development, and integration of software applications, as well as offering back-end support for extensions to the wireless product line.
He holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Ilorin, and has also attended different developer administrator training programs.
Note: This article does not include the CTOs of Globacom Nigeria and 9mobile Nigeria, as there is no source to confirm the occupants of these positions. Both companies have not tendered recent financial reports with the NSE, neither do their websites provide answers to these questions.
FG releases new details on MSMEs support scheme, budgets N200 billion for loans
The Bank of Industry will also join to coordinate the implementation of the scheme.
The Federal Government has released new details on the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) support scheme being rolled out under the National Economic Sustainability Programme.
According to estimates provided, the sum of N50 billion will be used to provide payroll support, N200 billion for loans to artisans, and N10 billion support to private transport companies and workers
The government disclosed in a tweet on the official handle of the government, the support scheme will include a Guaranteed Off-take Scheme for priority products, and an MSMEs Survival Fund.
The Federal Govt is rolling out, under the NESP, support schemes for MSMEs nationwide, including a Guaranteed Offtake Scheme (guaranteeing off-take of priority products); and an MSMEs Survival Fund that will make payroll support available to save jobs & sustain local production. pic.twitter.com/yLkHQn6zy3
— Government of Nigeria (@NigeriaGov) August 10, 2020
Modalities for the take-off scheme
The first track is a Guaranteed Off-take Scheme which will ensure continued local production and safeguard 100,000 existing small businesses to save 300,000 jobs.
Priority products include processed foods, personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers, face-masks, face-shield, shoe-covers and pharmaceuticals.
The implementation committee chaired by Ambassador Mariam Katagum, Minister of the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, will collaborate with private sector MSME associations to verify and screen applications from bidding MSMEs, define quantity and price of products required, and also get participants to join in the procurements.
SME survival fund
With a budget of N15 billion, the SME survival fund is expected to sustain 500,000 jobs in 50,000 SMEs.
Major sectors to benefit from the SME survival fund include hotels, restaurants, creative industries, road transport, tourism, private schools and export-related businesses.
The committee will identify eligible SMEs and screening and verification for this fund will be based on company registration, and tax registration. The implementation committee will approve disbursements through microfinance banks and fin-tech credit providers.
MSMEs that are unregistered will receive support to complete registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and all participants will be expected to make payments based on signed agreements.
The Bank of Industry will also join to coordinate the implementation of the scheme.
The scheme will last 3 months with Ambassador Mariam Katagum as Chairman, while Ibukun Awosika, Founder of The Chair Centre Limited (TCCL), and First Bank Nigeria will serve as the Vice Chairman.
More details are to be released subsequently from the Implementation Committee.
In July 2020, the Federal Government announced plans to roll out a N2.3 trillion stimulus package and survival fund for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to stay afloat amid the economic challenges imposed by the pandemic.
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who also heads the Economic Sustainability Committee, announced it at the 2020 edition of the Micro MSMEs Awards held virtually in July.
To benefit from the scheme, MSMEs would have to go through a rigorous and painstaking verification process which will be based on certain criteria.
MSMEs that have between 10 to 50 staffs are qualified for this fund. The businesses must make their payroll available to the government for verification while applying for the fund. Once qualified, the MSMEs will be eligible to have their staff salary paid directly from the fund for 3 months.
Brewery sector: A quarter to forget
Beer makers saw their revenues plummet in the second quarter of 2020 as the economic shut down extinguished sales.
The quarter ending June 2020 will be one to forget for Nigeria’s struggling brewery sector. Whilst the negative effect of COVID-19 is still being reported across every sphere of the economy, the brewery sector was always one of those that were expected to suffer the most.
The latest results from two of the industry giants, Nigeria Breweries and International Breweries confirm our worst fears. Combined revenues for both companies was N93.9 billion, representing a 22% drop year on year. Both companies reported revenues of N120, 4billion in the corresponding quarter of 2019.
Disaggregated, Nigeria Breweries reported a 21% drop to N68.6 billion and International Breweries 24% drop in revenues to N25.2 billion. Guinness is yet to release its quarter ending June 2020 results which happens to be its year-end. Ahead of its release, the company issued a profit warning as it anticipated the worst. The drop in revenues recorded in the Brewery sector is not a surprise. With most parts of the country in complete economic lockdown, beer sales are expected to drop significantly.
As expected, the fall in revenues crashed margins significantly. While Nigeria Breweries was able to eke out a tiny N70 million in pre-tax profits, International Breweries lost N4.2 billion. Nigeria’s Breweries actually fared worse when you consider that they reported a N7.9 billion in 2019 and N12.3 billion in 2018. Could it get any worse?
Beer companies have always posted some of their best revenues in the second quarter of the year and struggle in the third. With results this bad already in the second, things could only get worse in the third quarter. Though, economic activities are gradually picking up, entertainment life which it heavily relies on remains in comatose.
The industry has been struggling with dwindling sales and thin margins for years as younger Nigerians ditch beer for spirits, which are often cheaper, do not bloat the stomach and are quicker to intoxicate. Increase in beer sales are also seemingly positively correlated with an uptick in social events such as weddings, parties and birthday ceremonies. Hotels, bars, clubs and most entertainment centres remain shut since March. Some are expected to reopen in the coming weeks as the government eases lockdown. But till then, beer making companies are clutching on straws.
COVID-19 could be blamed for the industry’s woes, but a changing demographic still poses an existential threat to the sector. In fact, COVID-19 only showed how urgently they need to pivot away from relying on outdoor events to drive sales. Beer drinking is purely consumer product and needs to be pitched as such.
Rather, than advertise beer as a drink for bars during live events, it should be sold as a “must-have” beverage in the evening during family time. It should also be pitched as a must-have staple for house parties and close family gatherings or even casual remote working settings. The packaging should also gear off for a makeover. Beer dispensers anyone?
FX utilization fell to its worst on record in April
Forex Utilization in Nigeria fell by a whopping 80% in April as the economic shuttered in reaction to the covid-19 pandemic.
Forex Utilization in Nigeria fell by a whopping 80% in April as the economic shuttered in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from the central bank, Nigeria’s forex utilization fell to just $1 billion in April, the month where Lagos State and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, shut down economic activities and movement.
The CBN reports forex utilization in terms of the amount of forex utilized for invisible and visible imports. In April 2020, only $713 million dollars was used for visible imports from major sectors such as Industrials, Mineral, Manufacturing, Agricultural, Oil sector and transport. This compares to about $1 billion in March. The Industrial, Food and Manufacturing sector alone gobbled up $548 million compared to $791 million in March.
Worst hit was the invisible sector, which includes financial services, business services, health and the general services sector in general. it is termed the invisible sector because the forex is utilized for payment of services unlike the visible sectors where forex is utilized for importation of equipment, assets and other physical products.
The invisible sector reported a forex utilization of $361 mullion in April compared to $4.3 billion in March and $3.6 billion in February. This is the worst drop since 2008 the earliest date we have for this dataset. Whilst the drop was recorded across all sectors, the worst hit was the financial services sector. Forex utilization fell from $4.2 billion to just $331 million. The sector constitutes a bulk of forex utilized monthly.
What this means: Forex utilization is a function of how much forex is available for businesses to use for their transactions with counterparties across the world. The economic shutdown in April affected currency markets as forex sales fell across all forex windows.
The impact in April is severe and is probably remained worse throughout May, June and July. The CBN is one of the largest forex suppliers in the country but has staved off any pressure to sell citing limited economic activity in the country and around the world. Pent up demand for forex is thought to be between $1.5 -$5 billion.
Whilst there is a recorded drop in forex utilization as officially recorded, it is likely that some of the demand may have passed through the black market. It is also no surprise that forex utilization also fell between April 2016 and January 2017 as Nigeria faced a currency crisis before it devalued to N307/$1 and launched the NAFEX window.