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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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Nigerian Developer to Launch New First-person Shooter Game

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NCHE: The Escape

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A Nigerian developer, Mr Okolie Uchechukwu, will launch a new first-person shooter game, NCHE: The Escape, on Monday, March 14, 2022.

A statement from Mr Uchechukwu disclosed that the mobile game, a product of an inquisitive mind, entails the player using the resources available to make his way through lasers and zombies in the quest for survival.

According to him, a test was carried out last year and based upon the feedback, he and a co-developer, Cleec Designs, an indie studio based in Nigeria, improved the skill balance, gameplay experience for both android and IOS devices, and boosted the overall graphics and UI design.

He stated that the online showcase uploaded via his official YouTube channel has gathered interest from fans of the genre across the world.

When officially unveiled in less than two months’ time, game lovers would be able to download and play NCHE: The Escape for free by both iOS and Android users.

Mr Uchechukwu further explained that NCHE: The Escape thrusts players into a mysterious mental facility where escape is seemingly impossible.

“You’ll have to keep your wits about you as you try to find a means to escape. As the perfect icing to the cake, the facility is overrun by bloodthirsty zombies, so making it out of the place alive is indeed a challenge.

“Players will go through a series of eerie levels each time, encountering zombies, picking up defence supplies, and avoiding the lasers. NCHE: The Escape places players in a strange mental facility where the existence of life is unthinkable.

“So, making your way through the facility overrun by violent zombies will be a challenging task. Players can pick up guns and ammo on their way as they move ahead in levels, in search of their way to escape.

“The hitch here is that players have to be critical when using their weapons as ammo is limited. They will come across moving lasers and zombies that can be shot down any moment but sometimes simply dodging them would be a better alternative for players to make it through the advancing intense levels.

“The difficulty level increases with every progress as players will find it more and more challenging to withstand the approaching obstacles,” he added.

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Nigeria to Launch Another Satellite in Space Soon—FG

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NigComSat

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has disclosed that it plans to launch another satellite through the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) before the end of the year.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, during a tour of facilities at the agency’s base in Abuja.

He said: “That approval of federal government which I have secured has been forwarded to NigComSat. Now, it is on the table of NigComSat to answer that question. I want to make sure that as I said that 2022 is NigComSat year along with NIPOST. I want to make sure that all work in progress must be completed by 2022.

“As I said earlier, 2022 has been dedicated to NigComSat and NIPOST, and I want to do the best I can to improve what we have achieved in the previous years.

“I recently approved two subsidiaries of NigComSat and I am here to supervise what they have been doing, and I discovered some areas where we need to work to improve their performance significantly.”

He also stated that for the agency not to be considered for privatisation again, it must provide quality service and generate good revenue for the federal government.

He added: “Before I was made the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), there was the Oronsaye report which recommended for the scrapping of NITDA. But when I was able to turn things around from a generation of N7 billion to N19 billion in a year, no one talks about scrapping NITDA again.

“So, if you are able to turn things around, render quality service and generate income, no one will talk of privatising your company again.”

On her part, the Director-General, NigComSat, Mrs Abimbola Alike, appreciated the Minister for his immense support.

Mrs Alike stated: “We all know what our budget used to be N200 million-N300m, for a company that needs capital after overhead.

“He stood for us and said there must be something good in NigComSat because he is a man who believes that we can actually turn around NigComSat.”

She assured Mr Pantami of the agency’s readiness to deliver quality service and generate revenue to justify his efforts at revitalising the agency.

According to her, this year, Nigerians would see new significant changes that will make them know that NigComSat is a new company that can compete with its global counterparts.

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Technology

Balthazar Secures $3m to Achieve NFT Gaming Platform Growth

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Balthazar John Stefanidis

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The sum of $3 million has been raised by an NTF gaming platform, Balthazar, through the sale of tokens, with Animoca Brands emerging as the lead purchaser.

Other token purchasers were Finder Group (through Hive Empire Capital, which is led by Fred Schebesta), Zip co-founder Larry Diamond, Digital Asset Capital Management (DACM), Fantom, ZED Run, Darling Ventures, Pluto Digital, San Francisco-based VC Side Door Ventures, Algorand, and Three Arrows Capital’s TPS Capital.

With the new development, Animoca Brands, a global leader in gamification and blockchain with a large portfolio of over 150 investments in NFT-related companies and decentralised projects, will provide advisory services to Balthazar, which aims to be the leading NFT gaming platform in the metaverse.

Balthazar, which commenced operations in 2021, wants to be the largest decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) in the play-to-earn space.

The company is a community-focused platform, removing the barrier to entry for gamers to access play-to-earn games through its scholarship program with no upfront costs.

Balthazar is more than a guild, with plans to develop its tech platform, its rent-to-earn lending model, and to scale up its community.

Prior to the token sale, Balthazar deployed 1,100 scholars into several NFT games including Axie Infinity, Splinterlands and Thetan Arena, with a further 30,000 people on its waitlist, and a community of more than 70,000 people in its Discord channel.

“We are so thrilled to be backed by Animoca Brands and all of our supporters in helping to shape the metaverse and to continue assisting and expanding our community.

“This support means we can fulfil our vision of empowering the biggest community of gamers to create a self-sustaining, wealth-building ecosystem.

“We are developing the most incredible platform that will bring together gamers, crypto holders and individuals through our own NFT games, valuable tokenomic strategies and gaming partnerships.

“I’m excited about the future of the play-to-earn space, in particular how it’s spreading earning opportunities to those who need it most, as well as providing a new use-case for cryptocurrency,” the CEO of Balthazar, John Stefanidis, stated.

Also commenting, the Executive Chairman and co-founder of Animoca Brands, Yat Siu, stated that, “Balthazar has a thriving and fast-growing community, offering opportunities for all people to be involved in the NFT gaming space, including gamers, game companies, and crypto holders.

“With its dynamic leadership, we believe that Balthazar will be able to tap growth for NFT-based gaming in new markets, and we are excited to be part of its journey.”

Balthazar has opened a private token sale round, with plans to sell $8 million of tokens at a token cap valuation of $150 million by February 2022.

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