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Adenuga: The grand commander of telcos

By Adekunle Adekoya

IT is no surprise at all that Otunba Mike Adenuga, Jnr, supremo of Globacom got a national award, the second highest in the land. The real surprise is that it has taken so long for the GCON to be conferred on Nigeria’s biggest indigenous investor in the telecommunications sector, a sector whose phenomenal growth in just ten years has radically and permanently changed the way Nigerians live and interact with each other.

Adenuga did not start business with Globacom; indeed, he has been on the business turf as an entrepreneur iespecially in the oil and banking sectors, with recognised brands like Conoil, Equitorial Trust Bank, and Devcom Bank among others.

His foray into the telecoms sector began in 2000 with the first GSM licensing auction in which his firm, Comunications Investments Limited (CIL) participated, alongside running operators like MTN from South Africa and Econet from Zimbabwe.

Mike Adenuga

As things later turned out, CIL lost the license owing to inability to pay requisite fees within the stipulated 14 days. So, the nation had to make do with 0802 and 0803, and a lame-duck 0804 (M-tel, mobile arm of NITEL that government dashed a license).

After the disappointment of losing out, Dr Adenuga did not get disappointed, but went back to the trenches and strategised afresh. In 2002, a second national operator license was up for grabs, and Globacom bidded and won to become a national carrier. That enabled an indigenous Nigerian entry into the GSM business.

Prior to this the Southern Africans running Econet and MTN were making a killing via the billing system; Nigerians had been told to live with per minute billing with all its conditions of validity, expiration and all that. Since we could talk with each other at last, we were all paying, and happily too.

But Glo came and changed all that; Glo started per second billing, which is now the norm. It is here that the doggedness of Adenuga’s attitude to his telecoms venture is to be saluted; his initial disappointment with CIL did not deter him but spurred him on to create the only Nigerian wholly-owned telco. Remember IILL’s failed bid for NITEL and the unending sorrows it generated?

That is not all. In just eight years Glo has today become an international brand, with operations in Benin Republic, Ivory Coast, and Ghana, where it has garnered two million subscribers in just four months of operation.

Perhaps the biggest achievement of this telco is Glo-1, the 9,800 kilometere-long submarine cable laid from Bude in the UK to land Alpha Beach in Lagos. The potential of Glo-1 to provide secure, high-speed broadband will in no small measure further help to power national development as the nation strives to fully enter the 21st century.

All these mean just one thing: with a company like Glo and its supremo, the Nigerian dream is possible in all other sectors of the national economy in just a little time.It is no mean achievement, and Otunba Mike Adenuga deserves the award of Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON). Congratulations, Otunba!


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