By Prince Osuagwu
Considering the plenty harvests of good and bad, progress and retrogressionÂ in the telecom sector in 2009, one can only ascribe the Man of the year award bestowed on the Chairman of Globacom Limited, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr, by the Silverbird group, to the plus of a telecom sector development.
Most specifically because he was considered fit for the award not on account of his prowess in oil, banking or other businesses that he bestrides like a colossus, but for his initiative in a submarine fibre cable that is touted to revolutionise both the Nigerian and indeed African telecom landscape.
Again Adenugaâ€™s votes totalling over 75% of theÂ votes, were made possible via the text messaging. A system of mobile communication which he himself, through his Glomobile, has helped to bring to greater heights in the country.
Adenuga was nominated and won the award for Globacomâ€™s successful completion of the sophisticated trans-Atlantic submarine optic fibre cable which connects Africa to Europe and America and the nationwide optical fibre cable that connects over 40 cities in Nigeria and is reputed to be Nigeriaâ€™s largest OFC network.
Others nominated with Adenuga wereÂ Governors of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio; Kebbi State, Alhaji Danjuma Goje; Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and the Minister of StateÂ for Petroleum, Odein Ajumogobia,
The Silverbird Man of the Year award was conceived and initiated in 2005 to celebrate the Nigerian who, in the past year, most positively touched the lives of other Nigerians.
Former winners are Prof Dora Akunyuli, Minister of Information and Communications; Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Governor of Edo State.
The interesting part of the award is that while the world was looking at Nigeria with a leprous feeling following one of her own, Farouk AbdullMutalab, who was allegedly deceived by the Alâ€™Qaeda group to bring down one of Americaâ€™s planes, Telecom as always, was redeeming the image of the country.
It is difficult to ignore a country that boasts of over 70 million subscriber base, coasts home some whopping $18 billion in total investments in just 8 years and sprawls out a magnificent untapped virgin market.
Each time dirty issues like the 2.3Ghz WIMAX license imbroglio between the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Nigerian Communications Commission, the stalemated sale of NITEL, delay or derailed convergence of the ICT sector or even the quake in the banking sector as witnessed in 2009, threatens to impair the visibility of the Nigerian economy, it takes innovations in telecom like the landing of Glo 1 submarine cable and that of MainOne and other cable projects, to restore hope and direct foreign investors back to the economy.
Dr. Adenuga is believed to be Africaâ€™s leading business icon. He is actually not new to such awards. The latest honour came on the heels of recent similar awards including the Telecoms Man of the Year 2009 from Nigerian Information Technology and Telecommunications Awards (NITTA) and the Compass newspaper Man of the Year Award which was announced by the newspaper last week.
The awards celebrate him for his major contributions to the growth of the telecoms industry in Africa, including a fast roll out beyond the borders of Nigeria where Glo started its operations, the deployment of a submarine cable from Lagos through other major African countries to Europe and America and the building of a robust and innovative pan-Africa network.
The awards recognise his knack in always breaking new grounds in telecommunications investments and technology acquisition.
NITTA in particular regarded him as a â€œbusinessman extraordinaire who made Globacom the first telecoms firm in the region to commercially launch the 3G network and the first single company to lay an undersea cable from Africa to Europe with dedicated extension to the USâ€.
Adenugaâ€™sÂ Globacom has extended to Cote dâ€™â€™Ivoire, Ghana and the Republic of Benin, thereby setting the tempo of competition in the region, which would automatically raise the quality of service to international standard.