MTN announced on July 15, 2020, that its virtual sim cards are now available in Nigeria. This eSim (embedded sim) is built into the smart device and provides the same function as the physical Sim cards; the difference is they cannot be damaged or lost like the physical ones. In cases where there is a damaged phone, the user will need to visit an MTN store to have it deactivated. Also, the MTN eSim can have more than the limited 200 contacts the physical cards normally carry.
However, not everyone can use the eSim just yet as it is compatible with a limited number of phone brands, some of which include: Google, Apple and Samsung, and even then, there are only a few models of these named brands the eSim can be integrated into.
How does it work?
The eSim has to be activated onto a user’s device. This activation will be done in an MTN store by a customer service agent, this process according to MTN comes at no cost to the user. As soon as the device is confirmed to be compatible, a profile of the subscriber is created and the agent completes the integration process.
Reportedly, MTN will be testing the virtual sim cards over the next 1 year and will only be available to 5000 people during this test run. Also, current phone numbers cannot be linked to the eSim cards at the moment.
Nonetheless, this is yet another first for MTN, Nigeria’s’ biggest telecom company. The telco is no stranger to firsts in these parts; since 2001, the company has been credited with many firsts when it came to mobile communication and internet penetration. With the launch of the eSim, MTN has become the pioneer in West Africa.
Why are we liking the Idea of eSims in Nigeria?
It is rather early to say whether or not the eSim will in time completely phase out the physical cards Nigerians are used to but the many upsides that come with it, give room for us to want the eSim to thrive.
Sims have had one of the most exciting evolutions- Telcos have moved from macro Sims to micro and nano Sims, now we have the eSims, very soon, we’ll probably go simless all together.
- Using eSims means no more need for a sim card slot in newer model devices- so in case of a damaged slot, you can still use your device. Most devices that are compatible still have the sim card slot but just like the head phone jacks, the slots will probably disappear too.
- It is much easier to have multiple telephone numbers on one phone- no need to spend so much on a phone that supports two sim cards and no need to swap out sim cards any longer.
- It’ll be much easier to buy one off data plans and phone services when travelling abroad.
- Phones with the eSim feature have much more internal space, so they can fit in more components like bigger batteries, not just phones.
- eSims can be used in smart watches without having to link it to your phone.
- With the eSim comes locks to prevent anyone other than the user from using the embedded device, making it almost useless for anyone who intends to steal.
- The process when a user wants to switch phones can be a bit of a hassle- they would have to log on to your carriers system to inform on the number change for the new phone/device.
- User can be tracked easily seeing as you cannot fully disconnect from the network.
- Can only work on expensive devices- this relatively new technology can only work on new and expensive phone and devices, hence, the chance it will go mainstream in Nigeria where there is still a large market for the older model phones that are not even internet compatible is rather unlikely.
- Could cause a slow in business for telecom companies as the eSim allows consumers to purchase data connectivity from whoever they choose online.
From all the offerings of the eSim, it seems the most beneficial to a user who travels a lot rather than the next door mobile phone user. Regardless, the eSim has a lot of potential and eventually it could take the place of physical cards, but for now they will have to exist alongside the physical cards.
Rack Centre to create West Africa’s largest data centre in $100m expansion
Rack Centre’s expansion programme will increase capacity to a total net lettable white space of 6000 square metres.
Leading carrier neutral data centre operator in West Africa, Rack Centre, has announced an expansion programme that will increase capacity to a total net lettable white space of 6000 square metres, which will pave way for 13MW of IT power capacity in its Lagos campus.
This was disclosed in a press release by the company, which was seen by Nairametrics.
The expansion is expected to bring carrier neutral scale to West Africa, and this is in response to increasing demand for data centre space from cloud uptake, telecommunication investment and outsourcing of IT facilities by enterprises in the region.
The funding for this expansion will come from a $250m pan-African data centre platform, established by Actis and Convergence Partners, a leading ICT infrastructure investor in Africa.
In addition to the expansion in Rack Centre, the platform is also actively developing additional buy and build opportunities across Africa, to establish a network of carrier neutral data centres aimed at catering to carrier, cloud and hyperscale customers.
Back story: It is noteworthy that on March 2020, in a bid to pave way for the expansion programme, Actis, a London private equity firm, announced an investment in Rack Centre, taking a controlling stake in the business alongside Jagal.
Why this matters
Nigeria is a key entry point for global telecommunications, content, and cloud players seeking access to the region. Despite the potentials of the country; with 138 million internet subscribers, more than any country in Africa or Europe, and the largest population and GDP in Africa, a lack of cost-effective, energy-efficient IT infrastructure, has been a constraint to doing business in the region.
However, in a bid to create unrestricted connectivity between customers, telecommunication carriers, and internet exchange points within its data centres in the region, as a unique scale carrier neutral player, Rack Centre brings global best practice to Nigeria, as the first carrier neutral data centre in the region, to achieve Uptime Institute Tier III Certification of Constructed Facility (TCCF).
The global leaders that the platform has engaged include:
- Tim Parsonson, Co-founder, Teraco Data Environments – the largest carrier neutral operator in Africa, who joins the Board as Chairperson on the board.
- Frank Hassett, a veteran of the global data centre industry and previous Vice President of Infrastructure, at Equinix, brings over 1300MW of build and operate experience, to assist with hyperscale expansion.
While speaking on the expansion of capacity, Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of Convergence Partners, said; “Africa is at the start of a critical time in its development, as the 4th industrial revolution offers the chance to leapfrog many of Africa’s challenges, and harness the immense potential of its people. Convergence Partners is delighted to partner with Actis in accelerating the growth of high quality data centre infrastructure, an indispensable part of the foundation of this revolution in the region.”
Dr Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director of Rack Centre, emphasized that the group is proud of the quality and scale bar which they have set in the region.
“We are proud of the quality and scale bar we have set in the region and are scaling to be the de-facto digital data hub for West Africa
“Mass adoption of digital working models and content distribution is driving growing investment in the region and Rack Centre offers a world class location to house these IT and telecoms facilities,” Coker said.
Supporting this ambition, engineering consultancy Arup, have been appointed for the project. The leadership status of Arup is uncontested, having designed over 2,000MW of IT capacity for industry-leading tech giants, and co-location providers across the globe.
TikTok’s owner seeks $60 billion valuation in US deal as Oracle, Walmart take stakes
Oracle and Walmart have rights to buy 12.5% and 7.5% respectively of a newly established TikTok Global.
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance is seeking a valuation of $60 billion for its video-sharing app, as Oracle Corp and Walmart Inc take stakes in the technology firm’s US operations to address the security concerns of the Trump administration.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Oracle and Walmart have rights to buy 12.5% and 7.5% respectively of a newly established TikTok Global under an agreement that has gotten the approval of President Donald Trump.
The duo US firms would be paying a combined amount of $12 billion for their stakes if they reach an agreement with TikTok for the asking price of $60 billion.
The final valuation had not been set as the parties worked out the equity and measures for data security.
It was also stated that China is yet to approve the deal, although regulators are said to have expressed support for any transaction in which BtyeDance still maintains control of its valuable recommendation algorithms and other proprietary technology.
It would be recalled that President Donald Trump, had threatened to ban the ByteDance owned TikTok, over national security concerns, but which some analysts see as part of the row between US and China. This pressured ByteDance into the deal as they looked to avoid the ban by the US government.
The US officials had expressed concern that the personal data of as many as 100 million Americans that use the app were being passed on to the Chinese government.
ByteDance turned down the proposal of a full buyout from Microsoft Corp but rather agreed to Oracle’s offer in which the Chinese parent company will still maintain a majority stake in the technology firm.
Trump told reporters on Saturday, ‘’I approve the deal in concept. If they get it done, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s ok too.’’
Trump’s new stance appears to conflict with his earlier executive order for China’s ByteDance to divest from the video-sharing app’s operations in the United States.
ByteDance is in a race to avoid a ban on TikTok after the US Commerce Department said on Friday that it would block new downloads and updates to the app from Sunday.
According to market researcher, CB Insights, ByteDance is the most valued private start-up in the world at $140 billion. Under the proposed deal, ByteDance may end up owning as much as 80% of TikTok Global, which include the app’s operations in the US and the rest of the world excluding China. Venture firms like Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic may also acquire equity in the new business.
President Trump approves Oracle, Walmart deal with TikTok
Trump approved in principle a deal in which major Oracle and Walmart would partner with TikTok.
President Trump on Saturday night disclosed that he had approved in principle a deal in which major Oracle and Walmart would partner with TikTok in the U.S, thereby allowing the fast-growing social app to maintain operation in the world’s largest economy.
“I have given the deal my blessing if they get it done that’s great if they don’t that’s okay too,” Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn before departing for North Carolina. “I approved the deal in concept.”
Trump further disclosed the new firm will likely be registered in Texas.
Shortly after Trump’s comments, Oracle announced it was chosen as TikTok’s secure cloud provider and will become a minority investor with a 12.5% stake. Walmart and TikTok could not be immediately reached for comment. Trump said the companies would unveil the full scope of the deal soon.
Oracle CEO Safra Catz spoke elaborately on the deal saying; “We are a hundred percent confident in our ability to deliver a highly secure environment to TikTok and ensure data privacy to TikTok’s American users, and users throughout the world.
“This greatly improved security and guaranteed privacy will enable the continued rapid growth of the TikTok user community to benefit all stakeholders.”
Nairametrics, a few days ago broke the news on the proposed plan, awaiting President Trump’s approval, which included Oracle owning a minority stake that will be lower than 20% of the new global TikTok. Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer by revenue will also take a stake, though its amount remains unknown.
While the Chinese authorities have asserted it’s right to obstruct the sale of vital technologies, it is likely to approve the deal as long as it doesn’t involve the transfer of the artificial intelligence algorithms that drive TikTok’s service.
Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data