NCC, CBN regulatory interventions put 9mobile on growth path

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 interventions, which averted possible collapse of 9mobile, as the fourth largest telecom operator in the country, as result of a debt burden to a consortium of 13 banks, also saved over 16 million subscribers on the network from being cut off.

These were the highlights of interactions when the new Management and Board of 9mobile led by the telco’s Chairman, Alh. Nasir Ado Bayero paid a courtesy visit to the Management of the NCC in Abuja at the weekend.

Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba 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.”

“By successfully mid-wifing the take-over of 9mobile by new investors, we are happy that the joint regulatory interventions have culminated in the stabilisation of the telecom industry as well as calming frayed nerves in the financial services sector of the economy. One can imagine the consequences to these two important sectors of the economy, if we had not intervened in a timely manner,” Danbatta explained.

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 re-ignited.

Danbatta specifically called on the 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.

Earlier, Chairman of 9mobile, Alh. Nasir Ado Bayero told his hosts that his company was appreciative of the role NCC has been playing in piloting the affairs of the telecoms industry.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the NCC for giving us this chance to explain and present ourselves to the Commission. 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.

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 9mobile 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.

He added that the number of subscribers on its Long Term Evolution (LTE) platform subscribers stood at 192,000 back in November, 2018 but has now exceeded 235,000.

“What all these data point to is that we have actually, in a sense, restored trust in our subscribers who reactivated their Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards and we are quite pleased about this rebound which we are ready to sustain. However, we will continue to seek the support of the regulator in sustaining our investment in Nigeria,” he said.

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