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High Business Costs, Others Will Further Mount Pressure on Nigeria’s Telecom Industry—Report

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Nigeria's Telecom Industry

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The telecommunications industry in Nigeria will continue to face different challenges like high business costs occasioned by the devaluation of Naira and others.

This was the view of Agusto & Co in its recently released 2021 Telecommunications Industry Report, which provides a comprehensive view of the industry including the impact of the macroeconomic environment and COVID-19 on the Industry’s performance.

The agency said though the sector will witness prevailing inflationary pressures and the adverse impact of regulatory changes, its outlook for the year remains stable as it will provide recovery support to key economic sectors post-pandemic.

Agusto said Nigeria’s telecom industry has continued to thrive on the back of the liberalisation in the early 2000s as between 2015 and 2020, foreign investments (portfolio and direct) attributable to the sector amounted to $3.9 billion, an average of 7 per cent of Nigeria’s total capital importation during the same period.

The industry has consistently remained one of the top five ranking economic sectors for foreign investments during the period and it believes the imminent deployment of 5G technology and the Federal Government of Nigeria’s target broadband penetration rate of 70 per cent by 2025 will support substantial additional foreign investments in the near to medium term.

Due to the key connectivity support the industry provides, telecommunications was one of the economy’s few bright spots in 2020 (along with sectors such as financial institutions, agriculture and health services).

Except during the 2016/2017 economic recession, the telecommunications industry’s real growth has consistently exceeded the country’s GDP growth.

But it said despite the positives, the unstable macroeconomic environment in Nigeria poses a huge threat to successfully harnessing the vast potential of the telecommunications industry.

In the span of five years (2016-2020), Nigeria has gone through two economic recessions while the naira has continuously lost value against the world’s major currencies, negatively impacting purchasing power and the ability to maintain quality network equipment and services.

In addition to the fragile macroeconomy, the telecommunications industry has also had its fair share of unfavourable regulatory changes through onerous tax regimes, delayed approvals and heavy regulatory penalties.

Regulatory changes, with the initiation of the NIN-SIM verification exercise, drove a considerable decline in the industry’s growth rate to 6.3 per cent in Q1 2021 from 17.7 per cent in Q4 2020.

In order to complete the NIN-SIM exercise, the NCC mandated the suspension of SIM card activations and registrations, thereby slowing the sector’s growth pace.

In only four months of the NIN-SIM verification exercise, the industry’s active telephony subscriptions reduced by 7.7 per cent from 204.5 million as at the end of December 2020 to 188.7 million at the end of April 2021.

“On the back of anticipated SIM deactivations for subscribers without valid NINs, we estimate that the subscriber base will shrink by 3 per cent (year-on-year) by the end of 2021 to 198 million subscribers.

“However, due to the sustained uptake in mobile internet services and increasing diversification of value-added services by telcos, we believe revenue will grow, albeit by a lower rate of 5 per cent in 2021 (2020: 14 per cent).

“We anticipate that logistics around the NIN-SIM verification exercise will be resolved by the end of 2021 and thus, double-digit top-line growth should be restored by 2022,” the report said.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Technology

Nigerian Start-ups Jostle for #StartupSouth’s $30k Equity Pool

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#StartupSouth

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Start-ups in Nigeria have been given an opportunity to pitch for a pre-seed equity pool of $30,000 offered by an SSE Angel Network known as #StartupSouth.

The firm is organising a boot camp later in the year and it has opened applications for entries, which close on Thursday, September 30, 2021, a statement made available to Business Post read.

The StartupBootCamp by #StartupSouth is a two-week virtual acceleration programme aimed to identify early-stage start-ups within the South-South and South-East regions of the country with competent teams, high growth potential, signs of traction, and the ability to create jobs.

It was stated that the start-up teams while undergoing the training, will receive support to revalidate their business model, prepare for pitching and linkages with potential investors at a DealDay Session during #StartupSouth6 in Enugu.

According to the statement, the top five teams will slug it out for a share of up to $30,000 equity pool made available by SSE Angel Network.

“For the last 7 years, #StartupSouth has consistently pushed for a more democratized tech and innovation ecosystem where founders, especially within the South-East/South-South regions, can access funds and support, thereby giving investors more deals.

“We are excited to open the call for the StartupBootCamp by #StartupSouth,” one of the representatives of the firm, Owen Shedrack, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Interested teams have been advised to apply via https://bit.ly/ss6-pitch.

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Technology

Sigma Pensions Trains 100 in Digital Marketing, Others

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Digital Marketing

By Adedapo Adesanya

Pension Fund Administrator (PFA), Sigma Pensions, in collaboration with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN), recently trained 100 youths in Digital Marketing, Web Development and Graphics Design.

The 5-day Digital Bootcamp was part of Sigma Pensions’ Corporate Social Responsibility to equip young people with digital skills that will add value to them, improve their employability, create businesses and in extension grow the Nigerian economy.

As a business that has experienced the power of digital technology and its exponential impact on growth, the project is timely and relevant especially in these times when STEM skills are in high demand.

Held from September 6-10, participants ranging from age 18 – 25 came together for the live event which was held at John Centre Hall, Peb 04 Plaza, Dalaba Street, Behind Shoprite, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja.

Day 1 of the intensive digital boot camp introduced participants to data analysis, and digital marketing fundamentals.

The Sigma team was available on Day 2 to educate participants briefly on financial literacy after which a deep dive into the web development and graphics sessions commenced.

The graphics sessions covered the technical know-how of graphics design; visual hierarchy, page layout techniques, design use typography.

Web development classes covered the practical and theoretical aspects of web development, which involved developing a website for the Internet (World Wide Web) and also Content Management System (CMS).

The 5-day event closed with an exhibition where participants showcased their ideas, websites and designs where the most outstanding group was rewarded with a cash prize of N200,000.

Mr Afolabi Folayan, the Executive Director, Operations Sigma Pensions, stated that, “In 2016, we embarked on a digital transformation journey which has resulted in a radical transformation in our business and service delivery to both internal and external customers.”

He noted that by leveraging technology, Sigma Pensions had little or no negative impact during the pandemic as seamless customer service was achieved with minimal interruptions.

Through this bootcamp and subsequent ones, Sigma Pensions hopes to equip young Nigerians with relevant digital skills which will serve as a springboard for a career in any preferred field in tech.

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Technology

Tiktok Limits Kids to 40 Minutes Per Day in China

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TikTok

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

As China continues to cut down on accessibility to video games for younger children, the Chinese version of Tiktok called Douyin has said that all its authenticated users under the age of 14 can only access the app for up to 40 minutes a day, which must be between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

In a statement issued by the Chinese short video app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, users under the above age bracket will now access the app in a “youth mode” in its mission to moderate the exposure of young ones from inappropriate video content.

“The measures would apply to all users registered with their real names and as being under 14 years old. The mandatory measures are designed to protect younger users from harmful content.

“Up to 40 minutes, a day of Douyin for younger users will henceforth serve up edifying content such as science experiments, museum exhibitions, and history lessons,” the statement read.

Authorities have directed game companies and platforms like Douyin to use real-name identification for all its users; the process requires users to provide a phone number and other identification to access online games.

ByteDance, the parent company, said the content available to users in youth mode will now include educational material like “interesting popular science experiments, exhibitions in museums and galleries, beautiful scenery across the country, explanations of historical knowledge, and so on.”

This is coming barely 21 days after the Chinese Government placed restrictions and limits on the gaming time for minors to three hours per week (8:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m.) on Fridays and weekends as a bid to stop gaming addiction facing the country.

In recent times, Chinese regulators have strictly push against minors being exposed to online dangers such as “blind” and “chaotic” worship of internet celebrities which has been posing violations of core socialist values.

In the same vein, it has recently launched a six-month-long national campaign to address what it perceives as major issues in the digital industry such as disturbing market order, infringing users’ rights, threatening data security, and unauthorized internet connections.

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