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By NBF News

MTN Communication Limited, the foremost telecommunication company, said it brokered an $8 million deal to bring the FIFA World Cup telecast live to Nigeria. The deal, according to the company's General Manager, Consumer Marketing, Mr Kolawole O. Oyeyemi, was adjudged the biggest that has ever happened in the media industry par any brand, or par any organization in Nigeria. He said MTN also spent over N8 billion on marketing communications for the FIFA World Cup.

In this interview with Daily Sun at the Nigeria South African Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Forum, Oyeyemi maintained that 'all these were not a money making venture. The objective is first to enrich the lives of our customers.'

MTN's expenses pre-World Cup and prospects of recovery.

MTN has spent over N8 billion on marketing communications for the FIFA World Cup. It is not a money making venture. The objective is first to enrich the lives of our customers. Two, bringing to life the tournament we are sponsoring into the consciousness of our customers and; three, is to say that the World Cup is, for the first time, in Africa and many of us don't know whether it will ever come back to Africa. So, there is need to make it real in the lives of our people and make it an experience of a lifetime they will not forget, while it is here. By so doing, we have created direct and indirect employment.

That investment has gone into touching the lives of average Nigerians. Most young men engaged in our activities would have been jobless and, possibly, channel their energies into negative ventures. You can see that we have also affected our environment socially in a way that it prevented or reduced the percentage of vices we could have experienced in Nigeria, thereby adding value to the economy.

The fourth point I'll like to make is that we at MTN embarked on the provision of free content. Those of us who watch TV in Nigeria know that that content is a challenge here, and very few companies are willing to invest money in developing content. What we did was that we created a world class content and made it available to Nigerian television stations. That helps us to have interesting programmes at viewing times, and these have run consecutively for two years on the bill of MTN. This also helps the television industry in Nigeria to actually have something to engage their various audiences with.

It is not a corporate social responsibility but a mix of it. We are giving something back and, at the same time, communicating our values. For us to bring the FIFA tournament live to Nigerians in their homes, we brokered the biggest deals ever seen in Nigerian media industry. $8 million is the biggest deal that has ever happened in the media industry par any brand, or par any organization in Nigeria.

This is mainly about adding value to the economy, moving the society forward from where we met it before the World Cup and ensuring that there are possible legacies we can fall back on, after the World Cup. So, the FIFA World Cup is not just about a football tournament taking place in South Africa, or whether we win or not, which depended on a lot of variables, but about what impact it has on Nigerian soil.

We sponsored over 400 stakeholders to South Africa, apart from customers who will win through the consumer promotion. This was to give stakeholders from the media, business world, political world and every facet of the Nigerian economy, an experience of a life time. For the people back home in Nigeria, we created 31 viewing centres across the country. That means anywhere you are in the country, you have a viewing centre nearest to you. We have put Nigeria on the world map again in soccer. What did we do? We launched in the country, the biggest soccer ball in the whole wide world. It is a monumental moment in our life as Africans. So in order to leave a legacy for Nigerians, we checked the size of the biggest ball in the Guinness book of records up till May 2010. So we produced something bigger.

Does MTN have the infrastructure to handle mobile banking?

How can you say so? If we do not have the infrastructure we will not seek for the license. If we do not have the infrastructure we would not have invested so much money in building platforms, buying software and setting up a whole organisation to run mobile money. We were the first GSM operator to move that idea in Nigeria. We have done it in Ghana and if this is the largest operation in the group, then it goes without saying that we have more than enough infrastructure to make this happen. We are only waiting for the government to give us green light, and I can bet you, we will do it perfectly.

On whether the regulatory authorities are delaying the licence or not, I would not want to comment on anything that has to do with government parastatal at this point in time. When it is time, it will be a publicly made statement on that issue.

What I will say to you is that we out think competition. We out act competition, and outrun competition. This is because we do our best to know our customers. We do our best to provide solutions to the needs that we have identified with our customers. We equally do our best to continually exceed their expectations and that is what stood us up.

Advantages of being big
It is not the issue of being big. Being big or economies of scale as you implied is all about size and how you are able to manage your cost based on that size; leveraging on it. But it is deeper than economy of scale. You can be bigger yet ineffective. You can be bigger or be a failure. But when you are big and profitable, you must be doing some things right.

Trade relations between South Africa and Nigeria
The real challenge is first information. Do people know what is possible? Do people know what is available and do they know how to tap into what is available and possible in Nigeria for South Africans and in South Africa for Nigerians?

The problem most people have is there imagination. They imagine impossibilities. The commercial counsellor of the South African high commission in Nigeria has revealed it all. There are good opportunities in South Africa as there is in Nigeria. The reality on ground is whether people are willing to exploit those opportunities? If the opportunities are there and people don't utilize them, they are wasted; then the trade relations between the two countries may not grow.