Mr. Shehu Kaura, General Manager (Business and Marketing) of NICOMSAT Limited argues that defective perception is the bane of most genuine efforts within Nigeria. He asks for a mind-set shift even as he speaks on how NIGCOMSAT services are benchmarked on global best practices. He shares his thoughts with IT EDGE NEWS, Anthony Nwosu, inside the Nigerian Pavilion in GITEX 2015, Dubai.
As part of the Nigerian Pavilion at GITEX 2015,what are NIGCOMSAT objectives?
We were here last year and this year we are here to ensure that we come to show the world what type of satellite services we have for them and also woo investors. In a nutshell, we want to let the world to understand that there is a goldmine called NIGCOMSAT that people and investors can tap from which is based in Nigeria. There is significant improvement this year to last year in terms of the visibility and management of the Nigerian Pavilion. We have opened business talks with some individuals and firms. We also have seen pledges from people that intend doing business with us. We also have gotten numerous inquiries this year which is a very important improvement. My people are following up.
NIGCOMSAT satellite beams cover many other countries apart from Nigeria. How can organizations leverage on your footprints?
Our satellite has coverage in many regions of Africa. We have all of West Africa (ECOWAS) under our coverage. Others are Southern Africa countries, then from Somalia to Eastern part of Africa which is part of Ethiopia and Sudan. We also have footprints in South Africa and Central Asia. All these are potential business avenue for us. All of these places are potential market for us. We can offer various satellite solutions such as broadband, VPN, transponder and other satellite business. We are very open to doing business in these areas.
Nigerians don’t have confidence in most government establishments. How are you correcting this mind-set as regards patronage for NIGCOMSAT services?
I must be very honest with you, this mindset of Nigerians is wrong. For instance, if you have been to a country like Qatar, almost all the services in that country are run by government. I think this notion must change for us to move forward as a nation. This requires a national orientation. We have to start patronising Nigerian products. Every Nigerian is a stakeholder. We must encourage indigenes, government firms and organized private sector to thrive and do better. This NIGCOMSAT satellite is an impressive payloader and we have in excess to 40 transponders. We have C, Ka, L and Ku transponders. We have to start patronizing made in Nigeria. The MDGs, especially must lead the way.
Do you have Nigerian firms on your clients’ base?
Yes, we have Nigerian firms that are doing business with us and they are pleased that they are our partners. We have given these partners incentives and some other forms of motivation. I just came into Nigeria from Ghana where we are exploring business relationship with Ghana. The satellite is for a regional market but our focus is helping to boost Nigeria’s ISPs. The satellite is designed for a regional market so even if all of Nigeria takes up our services, there will still be space for the regional market.
How are you enhancing internet penetration and cost of broadband in Nigeria?
We have played a critical role in broadband penetration and before you jump into conclusion,let’s consider why the internet is still a bit high? There are many factors and most of these factors are caused by the age of a satellite. The average age of a satellite is 10 – 15 years so at the beginning the satellite operators try to make a reasonable margin but as the satellite is getting older or when this satellite live span is getting to an end what most of the satellite owners/operators do is to crash the prices and this will affect people like us. Also the cost of launching satellite in an orbit will also be considered. The challenge we have is that we have to balance and look at industry standards in the area of our rates/prices. In other for NIGCOMSAT to be attractive to any investor, we try to give certain privileges and incentives. NICOMSAT being a Nigerian firm doesn’t mean that Nigerians will expect free internet. The cost of maintaining an orbital satellite is high but that doesn’t mean that our service is exorbitant. Our rates are even below industry prices.
Nigerian publicly owned businesses are known to be badly run, what are you doing to change this notion?
It all boils down to the quality of service and oversight functions. We present ourselves to audit on annual basis and also work in line with global best practise. We offer very high quality of services. If you look at our satellite footprints, most of the satellite providers don’t have it. Our books are just open and we are open to scrutiny. If you go to Bahrain you will see that most establishments are owned by government. I think it is a perception we have developed in Nigeria that government doesn’t work. I think that this notion has to change. It all boils down to quality of service. If you look at our services you will understand that we are working yet we are government agency. I think it is a perception. NIGCOMSAT is run like a private business with a government background, we have been working and we will continue to work. We have to run this as a profitable business. We do our audit every year so saying that government doesn’t work is an aberration. We are like any other company just that we are wholly owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
People say you bully your competitor as a government firm – what is your take?
We are just playing a complimentary role. We are not who is better than other. You have the FTTH (Fibre to the home) and it is not every home that has fibre in Nigeria. We are not bullying anyone; what we do is to compliment the services of other players. We have various type of internet solution. Some will be fibre, some will be satellite so we complement each other. Satellite is overlooking Nigeria so if you don’t have fibre you can use our satellite.
“We have Nigerian firms that are doing business with us and they are pleased that they are our partners …. We present ourselves to audit on annual basis and also work in line with global best practise