September 25, 2023

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Globacom @ 20: The Eagle and The Bull


Episode 2 of 5

CEM SPECIAL, TELECOM | The reality of existence is that everything can be done by anybody, any group and any organization; especially when it becomes a norm or practice for the advancement of personal, group or corporate ventures. It is also true that what differentiates people, groups or organizations from others is the degree at which those things are done and the motive for doing them even though, most times, the motive determines the degree.

The bottom line is that, whatever any individual, group or organization decide to do, the outcome is judged by the level of impact created in the society in terms of number, capacity or volume. If impact creates attention, it is quite understandable, the decision of Continental Economy Magazine, CEM Television and its subsidiaries to celebrate these 20 years of GLOBACOM’s operation in Nigeria by highlighting the impact the company has made on the people of Nigeria through promos and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Chairman, Globacom

Otunba Mike Adenuga – Chairman, Globacom

By definition, promos are set of activities meant to communicate a product, brand or service to the user. While promos communicate the value of the product, it is also an activity that communicates the value of users. In this regard, Globacom rightly communicated its value and the value it placed on its subscribers through its biggest promo ever, since its existence. It is the introduction of the per second billing.

I remember the first call I made in 2002 from a phone booth to my elder brother, while in the University. The first attempt lasted about 8 seconds and there was this sound from the other end signaling that the line had disconnected. The number was redialed since the call was important; this again terminated after 11 seconds. At this time, the booth operator was already informing me that I would pay for ‘two minutes’, since she will be charged in ‘minutes’. I was only able to deliver my message at the third attempt after which I paid N300 for a total call time of 1 minute!

It is important to understand the weight of what Globacom did in 2003 when it introduced the per second billing that decisively crashed the cost of telephony in Nigeria. By calculation, the value of N100 in 2001 using inflation rate of 18% is equivalent to N1,322.73 in 2023. It then means that I paid an equivalent of N3,968.19 for that 1 minute cumulative call time.

To avoid spilling over to the next minute even by a second, calls were made in haste. Common scenarios at phone booths were arguments and altercations about disconnected calls that HAD TO BE paid for and miscalculated duration of calls. Cost of telephony took a good share of disposable income from families and individuals against the initial expectation of cheaper call rates.

I truly sympathized with the phone booth operators as they in turn were forced to charge high to enable them recover their investment, having spent so much in acquiring the handset and sim card. The cost of a sim card at that time was between N50,000 and N40,000 while Motorola (the first brand of handset that hit the market) was between N60,000 to N40,000. This made GSM exclusively for the rich and for those who strictly needed it for business purposes.

Mike Adenuga led Globacom wrote its name in the history of telecommunication in Nigeria when it innovatively crashed the price of sim cards to N5,000 and later to N100 in addition to the ultimate per second billing that caused the first major revolution in the industry. This will continue to resonate at any gathering or overview of the industry.

In 2010, PM News concluded a report on one of its numerous promos thus: “It (Globacom) has also been adjudged the most rewarding telecoms network in Nigeria because of the rate it gives back to its subscribers. Earlier in 2003, Glo had acquired the reputation of offering the best value for money because it pioneered the introduction of per-second billing in the Nigerian telecoms landscape when others said it was not feasible.”

The reoccurrence of this audacious disruptive act in the industry discussions, is based on the fact that, Globacom could have as well signed into the billing platform already established, after all, it was understood that huge amount of capital was invested in acquiring telecom license and setting up a network.

[READ ALSO] Globacom @ 20 (Episode 1 of 5)

The second reason the act is reoccurring is that Globacom was new in the telecom business unlike the other multinationals that had operated for quite a time before coming to Nigeria. So, there was viable reason to continue on the existent rate to fast track quick recoup of investment. It must be agreed that the Nigerian investment climate was considered not safe for long term investment at that time, as the country’s democracy was nascent.

It took the eye of an Eagle to project into the future that there was more laid ahead to be reached than the immediate small market as at the time; and identify the people who truly needed the service to connect more with loved ones and reach out for business exposure. It also took the strength of a Bull to cause such a major industry defining disruption; an industry that was unsettled and dominated by international players with more operational experience in other countries.

Strongly well, these are the qualities that describe Otunba Mike Adenuga Jr. aka The Bull. His successes in the upstream and downstream of oil industry, banking and Real Estate sectors give credence to these qualities.

Uncle Mike (as we have chosen to call him) is known to be a people-oriented entrepreneur both in-house and the community. He is a megastar entrepreneur with a strong team spirit and special attention to staff welfare; whose matchless zeal has impacted the society a great deal.

To be continued.

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