By Angeleen Nkwocha
The proactive regulatory interventions jointly initiated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) helped in saving several billions of dollars of investors’ money in Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), trading as 9mobile, preserving over 3,000 direct jobs and putting the telecom company on the path of recovery.
The Chairman of 9mobile board, Alhaji Nasir Ado Bayero disclosed during the company’s visit to the NCC in Abuja at the weekend.
The interventions, averted possible collapse of 9mobile which traded under the name Etisalat as the fourth largest telecom operator in the country, as result of a debt burden to a consortium of 13 banks, it also saved over 16 million subscribers on the network from being cut off.
Bayero expressed the appreciation on the role NCC has been playing in piloting the affairs of the telecoms industry.
“We are most grateful to the EVC and we, indeed, commend the NCC’s collaborations with the CBN and Federal Government for intervening at the time they did,” he said.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who received the 9mobile delegation, said “the interventions became necessary in order to address the decreasing subscriber base on 9mobile, save the country from image problem, instill investor’s confidence in the telecoms market and prevent loss of jobs among Nigerians.”
He said the commission successfully midwifed the take-over of 9mobile by new investors, and that the joint regulatory interventions culminated in the stabilisation of the telecom industry as well as calming frayed nerves in the financial services sector of the economy.
While stressing the need for new investors to demonstrate technical competence in managing the operations of the company, Danbatta called on the 9mobile management to address its institutional structure by ensuring that core professionals are hired to pilot its activities towards delivery of good quality of service (QoS) to its consumers, whose confidence in the fortune of the telecoms company has been reignited.
He tasks EMTS management to ensure it runs a process-driven operations that make all its stakeholders happy on a long-term basis in line with the provision of the 2016 Code of Corporate Governance for Telecommunications Industry, whose provisions have become mandatory on all licensees to comply with.
In his remarks, Ag. Managing Director of 9mobile, Mr. Stephane Beuvelet, who was excited that the telecom company has been put on the path of rebound, said in the last three months of having new management and board in place, “9mobile subscriber base rose from 15.3 million to over 16 million.”
He said Etisalat subscribers stood at over 20 million before the crisis started but dropped to around 15 million in the wake of the incidence that led to its being taken over by new investors.