Extolling one of Nigeria's thriving exports at 10

I should have written a piece on Nigeria's flagship in the telecommunications sector but for some inexplicable reasons I demurred. Still, what then incensed me to write refused me respite. Each time I read, watched or heard any of the numerous wonders of this indigenous company I get reminded of a debt I cannot but pay.

Debt, not because I have a stake in the company nor because I was commissioned to promote it, but because it is incumbent on us to say thank you to Globacom for at least delivering us from the strangulation of MTN that once blatantly told us that per second billing is not feasible in Nigeria. Of course, Globacom proved them wrong by billing its subscribers on a per second basis thus allowing consumers to pay for their actual talk time on phone. The yellow shylock had since swallowed its words and embraced the per second billing it had repudiated.

There are many other things to be grateful to Globacom for, one of which is the bringing down of call rate from the exploitative N50 per minutes to what it is now. Another is that it was the company that really made GSM to be within the reach of the common man. This, it did by crashing the price of sim cards to N200 at a time other networks were selling same for N40,000.

The company did not stop there. It, at a point, sold (or do I say gave away) its sim card for N1. Yes, you heard me right; one naira! This was when, upon buying a Glo sim for N1,999, you'd get benefits worth N1,998 leaving you with just a real charge of N1.

And such have been the trajectory of Globacom, bringing us emancipation when and where other networks elected to manipulate us. But are you surprised by this humane disposition of Globacom? Of course you shouldn't be. That is what you get when you have a brother providing what outsiders are offering. For he wouldn't be there and allow them exploit you. It's clear that Globacom has been doing just that.

The foregoing and other factors which you shall read presently made me want to dedicate a column to this network that has become a source of pride to Nigerians. Hence my latching onto the event of her 10th anniversary to do so. This commemoration, I'll use to extol this indigenous operator for its Corporate Social Responsibility that has been so unparalleled and for the overwhelming succour it has continued to afford Nigerians and others.

That is the right thing to do, lest we give ourselves away as an ungrateful stock undeserving of anything good. It's also proper we channel our goodwill to Globacom at this point so that we can inspire the telecoms service provider to do more. This isn't to undermine the fact that showing much love to Globacom could make its competitors want to carry about in like manner so as to elicit such amity from us as well.

It's rather sad that Nigerians are not showing enough fervour about the Globacom network. If they had, there would have been a deluge of congratulatory messages running off national dailies and the social media would have buzzed with talks about the Globacom phenomenon. This either goes to show how nonchalant Nigerians can be about little things that matter or it reveals lapses in the publicity drive of Globacom.

I don't want to take the later as true for as regards marketing communication, the network and its handlers have done quite well. Indeed, they have made good use of the marketing mix for the brand's promotions. Considering its recently concluded Glo slide and bounce tour, the ongoing X factor show, the rave-making Unlimited theme song coupled with its extant sponsorship of Glo CAF Awards and the local football leagues in Nigeria, Ghana and Benin Republic, Globacom has used these and more to endear itself to members of the public.

Many, as a result, now see Globacom as a company that isn't just out to rake in profits but a network that seeks to add value to the society. One thing I find fascinating about Globacom is its believe in Nigerians and in the Nigerian project. Its major pay-off lines have continued to reflect this. From Glo with pride to Rule your world and now Unlimited, its slogans have consistently inspired Nigerians to set out in achieving their dreams.

And it doesn't just stop at inspiring them, the company goes ahead to create avenues for bringing these dreams to fruition as we can see in the ongoing X factor TV show and the network's interventions in Nollywood and our local football league.

Globacom, taking up the sponsorship of the Nigerian Premier League when many people left it for dead evinces the service operator's uncommon faith in Nigeria. At a time when football lunatics (I beg your pardon, fanatics) are so crazy about the English Premiership, Spanish La Liga and the likes, Globacom going ahead to invest in the local football leagues of Nigeria, Ghana and Benin Republic speaks volume of its good intentions that are devoid of any vile.

Thursday, August 29, 2013 makes it exactly 10 years that Globacom was launched into the nation's telecommunications terrain by Dr. Michael Adenugu Jr GCON. He had to weather no still a storm before being granted a licence to float the network, owing to what pundits believe was the then powers-that-be's displeasure with the people he associated with.

It is instructive to note that by the end of its first year of operation in 2004, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recognised the role played by Globacom in what was then globally celebrated as a revolution in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria. The network came over two years after South Africa owned MTN and a Zimbabwean promoted Econet had stormed the market, yet this didn't hinder Globacom from announcing its presence in a major way.

Little wonder a decade down the line, the network is now ranked second in the Nigerian telecoms industry with over 25 million subscribers to show. Globacom, no doubt, didn't achieve this feat on the basis of being a hundred per cent Nigerian enterprise. Nigerians are not that generous in according patronage just on nationalistic considerations. The company is what it is today based on its altruistic nature, innovative services and an unflinching believe in Nigeria and Nigerian youths.

This explains why it is the only telecoms service provider in the country with the highest number of celebrities on its payroll as ambassadors. They include: Psquare, Lagbaja, Basketmouth, Flavour, Omawumi, MI, Jim Iyke, Waje, Lynxxx and co. Empowering these stars as ambassadors invariably amounts to commissioning them to continue making us, their fans, happy by prompting them to deliver their A game always. Need I say that it is courtesy of Globacom's perfect relationship with these celebrities (as many as they are) that we don't have a case of any of them making a jest of him or herself or the network by shouting 'I don port o'.

Further, creating deals for these artists inspire those yet to attain stardom to be assiduous in working towards becoming a star knowing that once they got there, there will be Globacom's ambassadorial deals waiting for them. And in that course, we are afforded wonderful tunes to enjoy all because of this genial network. Still, the presiding does not include the massive direct and indirect employment opportunities generated by the existence of the company.

In virtually all ramifications one looks at it, it is fit and proper to exult that there is, at least, an indigenous player in the highly competitive Nigeria's telecoms market that has got our back. That's a major reason why we should take thanks to Dr. Adenugu for investing his wealth and ingenuity here. His kind is a rare breed in a country that brims with idle moneybags who just stash their cash abroad or spend it in frivolities and not meaningful investments that can add value to our country and its economy. It is in this respect that we can better situate his been awarded with the second highest national honour of GCON.

Having lasted a decade, it should now be clear to even the worst of pessimists that Globacom is here to stay. Unlike the Nigerian-owned HiTV which disappointed the expectations of many who trusted it would endure and challenge the monopoly of DSTV, Globacom has over the years proven to be a successful Nigerian story that has exported itself to Ghana, Benin Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal and the Gambia.

This should make us feel as good as we do when we see other countries deify our homegrown movies or when we hear of our music stars staging sold-out concerts in other countries. For, these are the little things that make nationals of a country feel they are superior to citizens of other countries.

Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi
[email protected]

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Articles by Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi