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GLO Prime offers additional voice, data value to customers

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Total telecommunications solutions provider, Globacom, has said that its new product offering, Glo Prime, would help businesses grow by keeping them connected and running no matter the time of day. It is also meant to ensure customers get more value for the money they spend on the Glo network.

Glo Prime, a portfolio of call and data plans is designed principally for high networth individual and corporate customers, especially those who operate their businesses locally and need to be in touch with other clients globally both during the day and at night.

According to a statement by Globacom, it comes in four different plans – N1,500, N3,000, N5,000 and N10,000 packages. Whichever of these plans the customer chooses, he or she is assured of tremendous value to the business and other customers.

For instance, the Prime N1,500 plan gives the customer 45 minutes of calls and 4GB of data, while Prime N3,000 plan has 100 minutes of calls and 12GB of data. For the Prime N5,000, the subscriber gets 300 minutes of calls and 25GB data, while Prime N10,000 plan offers 750 minutes of calls and a huge 60GB of data.

“In a highly dynamic environment, there is need for constant innovation to offer more value to our new and existing customers. The Glo Prime is, therefore, a portfolio of new plans designed to surpass similar products in the market in terms of flexibility, ease of use and value”, the company said.

Globacom which marked 20 years of operations in August is reputed for providing its subscribers innovative Voice and Data solutions at the most competitive prices. It recently won two awards at the “Consumer Value Awards” for its commitment to excellent service delivery and innovative offering to subscribers.

Communication

Banking and digitization: An opportunity for economic growth in Africa

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Some of the biggest banks on the continent to digitize and utilize the latest technology. According to McKinsey, cash is still used in more than 90% of all transactions in Africa. One of the key reasons for this is access to smartphones.

Sim Tshabalala, the CEO of South Africa’s largest bank Standard Bank Group speaks about this issue and how it is changing, “Progress is continuing with more internet connectivity, more fibre being rolled out by the cell phone companies on the African continent. The consequence of that is that the African continent is in a position to leapfrog. And banks operating on the continent are using that capability and that connectivity to meet the needs of their clients, to pay, to move money around, to invest, and indeed to create wealth and pass it on to future generations. So, to put it differently, now is a time that is most exciting for the banking industry.”



African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is opening new opportunities for businesses and individuals across the continent. Tshabalala explains, “The African Continental Free Trade Area is going to be a game changer for our continent. Firstly, it’s going to reduce poverty. It’s going to increase incomes, it’s going to increase the ability of people, ideas, knowledge, and capital to move between countries, and therefore it’s going to increase economic activity.”



Looking ahead to the future, Tshabalala says he is excited for Africa’s potential, “The regions that are really exciting on the continent, to be frank, are all of them. Here in southern Africa our business is growing very, very fast, it’s growing in double digits. The Mediterranean-facing countries, as they increasingly integrate themselves into the African continent, provide massive opportunities for financial institutions. And I’m hoping you get a sense from me, as a pan-Africanist, that this’ll be the African century, it is incredibly exciting.”



The development of the financial system in Africa is crucial for economic growth and reduces financial volatility by encouraging long-term investment. FirstRand Group Chief Operations Officer Mary Vilakazi speaks about how fintech companies are changing the banking landscape, “If you look back 10 years ago, there were about two digital banks, and now there are about 21 on the continent. So, competition is fierce. And certainly, the need and demand is there. So, we are still very excited about waking up and understanding the needs of our customers across all the markets and coming up with solutions that are of relevance to them. And certainly, I think trying to keep up with the technological advancements that that I think we’ve been seeing come our way.”

Vilakazi describes what she thinks are the current biggest trends in banking and fintech, “When I think of what technology does, it really enables us to be able to look out for fraud. I think in this day and age we know how cyber risk is top of mind for everyone. And then, the second one is really to remove any friction-costs because I think we always think about reducing customer angst but any things that you can do quicker, and I think you can do a bit more slicker, with technology.”

In Ghana, Giokos meets with Ecobank Managing Director Jeremy Awori. He discusses the bank’s current digitization, “I think banks have moved forward and Ecobank is really trying to move forward even faster. We believe that digital is the way forward. We’re a digitally driven bank. We have a single gateway that you can literally access our 35 markets. So, you know, when we talk about money transfers, it’s real.”



Awori is also a supporter of the AfCFTA, but he says more must be done to implement its goals, “Countries are indicating that they really want to work with one another. Where we are looking forward is, how do we actualise this? Let’s actually see trade increasing. And you know, looking at the non-tariff barriers. How do we eliminate those? How do we reduce those? How do we reduce the friction?”

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DSO: BON Rejects NCC’s Planned Sale of 600MHZ Spectrum Band

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The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) has rejected the planned sale of the 600MHz spectrum band exclusively allocated to broadcasting in the country.

The rejection was conveyed via a letter to the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), by Dr. Yemisi Bamgbose, Executive Secretary of BON. The letter, titled “An Urgent Call to NBC to Save Television Broadcasting from Extermination” and dated 25 April 2023, called on the NBC to take the required legal steps to prevent the sale of the spectrum band until after the completion of the Digital Switchover (DSO), as stipulated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and as stated in the Federal Government White Paper on digitization.

Bangbose cautioned that a sale of the band before the analogue switch-off will result in the denial of access to television broadcasting of over 80 per cent of Nigerians, who depend on it for information and public enlightenment. “Our attention has been drawn to an advertisement placed by the NCC, titled ‘Availability of Frequency Slots in the 600 MHz Spectrum Band’, published on March 23, 2023.

“In the said advertisement, the NCC brought notice to the general public on the availability of frequency slots in the 600MHz spectrum band for sale. The advertisement further stated that submission of interest closes on or before the close of business on April 28, 2023.

“Director General, Sir, if this sale of the primary spectrum allocated to broadcasting is allowed to happen, all television stations operating on frequency 600MHz will be affected negatively.


“Those that will be affected include all DTT operators; ITS; Pinnacle; many private television stations; majority of state government-owned stations; some NTA community and state stations operating within the range of 600MHz frequency.”

“The Director General will recall that the frequency 700-800MHz, housing some state government-owned and private stations, have been sold to telecom operators, a decision that has created problems that have not been resolved,” Bangbose stated in the letter.

He similarly stated that if the proposed sale of the spectrum by NCC goes ahead, it will leave the country’s broadcast space for unhindered penetration by foreign media organs, negative consequences of which he said will be significant.

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As Clear as Mud: Senate’s Grasp of Pay TV Tariffs, Pay Per View

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AKINTOKUNBO AKIODE

Six months after the Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan constituted an ad-hoc committee of the upper legislative chamber to investigate the hikes in pay television rates and the demand for the adoption of Pay Per View (PPV) subscription model by operators, the committee held a public hearing into both matters on 22 September.

Based on media reports of the hearing, the most evident outcome is of the  committee’s foggy grasp of the issues it sat to probe. This piece does not aim to diss the Senate, but to illuminate the issues and ensure a better understanding by the ad-hoc committee and subscribers. A bold hint of the committee’s meagre grasp of the issues was provided by the committee chairman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, who blamed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for the frequent pay television tariff increases.

“We need to have price regulation. Price increases need to be regulated. NBC, from all intent and purposes, are the problem of the country when it comes to pay TV,” Abdullahi said.

Only one inference is drawable from this: That the NBC has the power to regulate prices and has failed to exercise the power, the reason tariffs have kept climbing. But the NBC Act CAP N11 gives the commission no such powers, as stated at the hearing by Anete Onyebuchi, who represented the commission’s Director-General.

“The NBC Act only gives it power to receive, consider and investigate complaints regarding broadcast content. Nowhere in the Act is the NBC given powers to regulate the prices being charged on their services,” Onyebuchi, NBC’s Deputy Director, Research and Policy, said in his presentation.

Given that the issues being investigated are consumer-centric, it was curious that the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) was not nvited to the session. This is because the FCCPC has the responsibility for the protection of the consumer against exploitation. Its Executive Vice Chairman, Dr. Babatunde Irukera, is also on record as having explained that the commission is not empowered to regulate prices.

In an interview published by Premium Times on 18 April 2022, Irukera dispelled the view that his agency is a price regulator. He said the law establishing the commission has a limited provision on price regulation which, if even it allows the government to fix prices, requires the FCCPC to make a recommendation to the President for a limited time of price regulation in a specific sector.

The committee, surprisingly, also seemed indifferent to/unaware of local and global economic conditions responsible for the cost-of-living crisis everywhere. In six years, said Abdullahi, MultiChoice, on which the committee’s guns was trained, has increased its tariff by 55 per cent.

Clearly lost on the committee are conditions that make price hikes of not just pay television, but all goods and services, inevitable. At the hearing, John Ugbe, the MultiChoice CEO, listed such as including rising costs of inputs and technical upgrades as well as the naira’s shrinking value.

“The costs of satellite pay television are massive, ongoing and increase, rather than decrease, with time. Due to the current adverse economic situation, some of these factors have, over the years, negatively impacted our cost of doing business and have put us under very challenging conditions,” explained Ugbe.

Basic. Very basic, I would think. A similar position was canvased by Olushola Peters, Head of Marketing, OurTv, and Tony Iyare, Coordinator, Nigerian Viewers’ Collective (NVC). “Inflation is now over 20 per cent, the highest in 17 years. The content which they (pay television operators) offer is bought in dollars and there has been a geometric drop in the value of the naira to the dollar. Prices of services and consumer goods, including household ones, have risen astronomically and continue to do so in the last three years. Prices of diesel and aviation fuel have leapt. Local and international economics dynamics are responsible,” argued Iyare.

Pay television companies, he stated, are in no way shielded from the inclement economic climate, which has seen even the government raise the pump price of petrol. Iyare also noted that in the event of price regulation in the sector, pay television companies will be forced into reducing the value of their offerings to the subscriber.

Just as the committee started with the apparent belief that price regulation can be declared and decreed into existence, it cockily slid into the second arm of its assignment, PPV. The ground was prepared by Senator Patrick Abba Moro, sponsor of the motion that led to the constitution of the committee in March by the Senate President.

Moro’s view is that PPV will result in the lowering of tariffs, as subscribers will pay only for what they watch. He was right, but still wrong.

 As those who presented memoranda, including pay television firms and stakeholders pointed out, PPV allows payment only for what is watched, but not in the manner presumed and is actually more expensive than the fixed subscription model in use.

Explaining PPV to the committee, Ugbe said: “It would appear that this problem is because of some confusion in understanding the basic definitions and distinctions between some of the existing operational business models in telecommunications and pay TV broadcasting. PPV model allows a subscriber to watch some special one-off events, usually of the high-ticket variety in sports and entertainment, by paying for such events in addition to having an active subscription. Pay-As-You-Go, accommodates a metered mode of service, where consumers are billed only for the service they consume and not for a fixed period. The desire by this committee to adopt PPV is further challenged by the non-existence of any technology that can detect and or determine the viewers are tuned in per time. Once it is impossible to have this knowledge, billings based on ‘per view’ become difficult if not almost impossible.”

Emeka Mba, former NBC Director-General, and Dr Monday Michaels Ashibogwu, CEO of Billsbox Services, also touched on the misapprehension around PPV. Mba said PPV is not the same as Pay-As-You-Go, as widely assumed. In his submission, Ashibogwu said: “The simple definition of PPV is a system under which a viewer is required to pay a certain fee for viewing special programmes such as live events or sports. The programme is broadcast at the same time to everyone subscribing to PPV service. The addition of PPV to a package grants viewers access to programmes on a pay per view basis. The payment is specifically for a programme, show or event.”

Ashibogwu noted that the type of content broadcast via pay per view is typically big-ticket and is not included in the regular line-up of programmes, adding that the cost element is why PPV is used for high-niche events, not mainstream pay television broadcasting.

 “These are not sums of money the ordinary Nigerian can afford,” he said with examples.

The epic 2015 boxing bout between America’s Floyd Mayweather and Filipino Manny Pacquiao, he stated, was retailed on PPV at £30 to viewers in the UK and $99.5 in the US respectively. He equally said that if the bout had not lasted the distance, it would have meant that the payment ended at whatever round was the final of the bout. The fight, he recalled, was made available to DStv Premium subscribers at no extra cost. The UFC fight between Khamzat Chimaev and Gilbert Burns, he added, cost $64.99 on PPV in the US.

At this point, dear readers, permit me to bring back Irukera. Responding to a question on PPV and its interchangeability with PAYSG in telecommunications during a July 2020 Channels Television interview, the FCCPC boss said there is a confusion between the two models, adding that what obtains in telecommunications is not necessarily applicable in pay television.

“My challenge with what sometimes is the discussion around pay-as-you-go in pay TV is that there is a disconnection. We have conducted some investigations and we have done some surveys in different parts of the world. The pay-as-you-go model in telecommunications is not necessarily applicable and so we confuse it sometimes with pay-per-view. Pay-per-view is not that you pay for what you view from the point of when you turn your television on. It is primarily that there are certain programmes, maybe a boxing match, a soccer match or some movies that are still in the cinemas that some of the pay TV operators have bought and you can literally request instead of going to a stadium or going to a cinema to watch, you can watch it in your home and pay for that view. That is pay-per-view, but we confuse it with pay-as-you-go. What people are asking for in pay-as-you-go is when you turn on your television and you are watching, you pay. When you turn off your television and you are not watching, you don’t pay. It is difficult because the content has been created, what you are paying for is access. Unlike the telephone where the clock starts and the airtime goes down, you have paid for content,” he said in the interview.

What is also not in doubt is that programmes, shows and events broadcast on PPV are high-niche and, therefore, very expensive. They are not a regular broadcast staple. The duo of Dr. Bright Echefu, CEO of TStv, and Mr. Tunde Aina, COO of Startimes, also poured cold water on the PPV debate, describing it as one that is not feasible. However, they said their organisations have instituted a daily access model.

“Pay per view is not feasible, but we came up with pay per day. We allow our subscribers to choose the package based on the number of channels they want to watch,” said Echefu.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the committee investigations, but in the meantime, there is a need to ask a few questions. Why were the Ministry of Information, which supervises the broadcast industry, and FCCPC not invited to the hearing? They were missing from the list of agencies invited. Those invited were Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria.

 Also, one has to wonder why, at this time, tariffs on pay television services, used by less than five per cent of the population, are above stratospheric prices of goods/ services, dipping naira value, insecurity, protracted university lecturers’ strike and other matters that affect the vast majority? Answers to these are crucial, given that both chambers of the National Assembly have, at one time or the other, travelled this route and returned with nothing beyond blunt resolutions.

As a Twitter user asked on the social networking site, “why are National Assembly members keen on pay per view, but are resistant to the idea of carrying out their legislative functions on part-time basis and get paid sitting allowances? That is legislative pay per view na.” Funny, but not exactly untrue.

Akiode, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja

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