By Prince Osuagwu
Chief Executive Officer, Main One cable company, Ms Funke Opeke, at the weekend threw a daring challenge at the federal government to open up the broadband market and see what an explosion the country’s ICT landscape would suddenly experience.
Opeke was speaking while reviewing the activities of her company in the last two years to ICT Journalist in Lagos. Her challenge apparently came off her worry that the country was still not having the expected access after huge investments in submarine broadband cable projects. This same circumstance seems to have pushed her into changing Main One’s original business decision of being solely a broadband whole sale company to now venturing into the retail market.
Although she painted a flowering picture of growth and penetration that her company has made in the last two years, the feeling that many others were just behind ,seemed to dim her joy because for her, getting the country to the top spot of global broadband market was far more a desire than individual business growth and profits.
She believed that for a Main one that has close to 200 corporate customers, invested well over $255 million and still investing, great joy would finally come when the market is open, to create opportunity for all players to get together and put the country firmly on the map. “We are not interested in building a monopolistic empire. We want others to come on board to help us in taking access to where it is supposed to be in the country” she said.
According to her, “the problem with broadband penetration in Nigeria is not about infrastructure. There is infrastructure but it is in proprietary, meaning that it is controlled by large telecom operators. That is exactly why it is still costly to go into the inlands. That is why a huge capacity is still in the shores and major cities. That is why the wholesale retail price differences are still prohibitive and relatively high.
“However, there is a way out — Broadband policy. We are seriously advocating for it because it would make infrastructure available for all to play, without thinking so much about competition, business and profit” she added.
Taking the media through her company’s two years of operations, Opeke claimed that Main One has proven itself as a serious business outfit and a clear leader in the wholesale broadband genre of Nigerian ICT business.
“We have proven ourselves in wholesale broadband services in Nigeria, Ghana and other African countries.
At the moment, our cable provides services between Nigeria and Ghana. We are looking forward to linking from Togo to Benin Republic.
We are carrying a lot of Nollywood content on our network. So far, most of the companies uploading Nollywood contents on the net are doing so via our services.
We are also working on landing in Portharcourt shores to push capacity into that region. However, we are taking our time to ensure that the leap would have business value”.
Meanwhile, Opeke also noted that MainOne was looking forward to delving into the retail market. “We have partnership with second tier operators (ISPs) to be able to do that” she said.
She also believes that competition is one of the very realities of business but however added that in her case, MainOne’s competitors are just delving into the service areas that the company ventured into even as a green company , succeeded and moved far ahead. “I think that we are far ahead and should be confident that competition is far behind.