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Improving end-user satisfaction in Nigeria’s telecoms sector

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Nigeria’s telecommunications sector has witnessed tremendous growth over the last 15 years. It has been adjudged as the largest market in Africa…thanks to the last Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rebasing in the country.

Economic liberalization has helped boost the multi-operator/multi-service open market, and the improvement in telecommunications infrastructure has given further impetus to the sector’s overall growth narrative.

Nigeria is among the fastest growing smartphone markets in sub-Saharan-Africa, with about 30 per cent penetration and over 145 million active mobile subscribers. Significant contributors to this growth are affordable handsets, low tariffs, per-second billing features, changing demographic profiles and rapid increase in demand for value-added services (VAS).

Though, government still foot drags on the ‘Made in Nigeria’ campaign, the
sector has been able to attract about $38 billion investment, majorly foreign. Today, telephone density is currently above 105 per cent, meaning that only a small percentage of the country is yet to be fully touched by the power of telecommunications.

Market watchers are expecting Nigeria to maintain this high growth rate over the next few years as operators gradually move from 3G to 4G/LTE services.

Nigeria’s growing subscriber base has high expectations of service delivery from mobile network operators (MNOs). And in a pre-paid dominated market seamless service is key else customer retention can get challenging. Every MNO is making all efforts to address challenges associated with such a market. Below are some of the most obvious challenges:

• Making data a priority – As tariff plays a big role in determining the direction that telecommunications companies take, most MNOs are stressing on data and other VAS offerings in order to create a differentiated service offering as well as generate alternate opportunities for incremental revenue growth

• Value for customer – MNOs often struggle with creating a brand that is constantly innovating and remains relevant to customers. Telecom companies are frequently pitted against each other given their similar nature of offerings and are faced by the lurking threat of commoditization of services, particularly where differentiation is a challenge

• Call drops – Telecommunications companies are under constant pressure from the government (regulator) to improve the quality of services as the call-drops situation continues to worsen. Though, they have times without number being penalized, even with heavy sanctions, if they failed to meet the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the possibilities of tougher sanctions lie ahead of them.

• Mobile number portability – The activation of facilities like mobile number portability, which was launched in Nigeria on April 22, 2013 has given a choice to consumers to select network operator of their choice without having to change their number. This has further exacerbated the challenges for MNOs, particularly those with limited infrastructure and IT support.

• Falling average revenue per user (ARPU) – The average revenue in Nigeria is still very low compared to other SSA countries with. As at 2015, according to data released by industry leading operators, ARPU in Nigeria’s telecoms market is estimated at around $6 (N1, 452), given the foreign exchange rate at N242.

So operators are faced by the double-edged sword of increasing investments in spectrum while ARPU continues to remain low.

Probable solution – On-field business Intelligence: In such a scenario, creating unique value proposition with the help of IT solutions is one of the best ways forward for telecommunications operators in Nigeria.

According to a telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, from his UK base, in deploying IT solutions to measure Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) is one such approach that can give service providers the necessary edge they need to hedge against some of these typical challenges.

Aluko said QoE has nowadays become one of the most important factors for subscribers while choosing an operator.

“By using these solutions, operators can gather specific information on the call and data traffic, specific to area and timings. This data can help reduce operating expense for customer-care centers, as they can speed up the problem-solving process for customers by correlating parameters and events at different levels.

“MNOs should differentiate themselves through business intelligence, gained from deploying QoE and QoS solutions to better pre-empt their subscribers’ needs, build brand loyalty and upsell their products. Smart business intelligence allows MNOs to add features and services that can be leveraged for enhanced performance, increased uptime and exclusive content”, he stated.

To withstand Nigeria’s fiercely competitive telecommunications market, an MTN subscriber, Dayo Adekunle, advised MNOs to establish an uninterrupted model for driving productivity and revenues.

According to him, with data usage on the rise, MNOs should consider to examine their existing framework and make adaptations to increase flexibility and reliability when necessary.

He pointed out that QoE & QoS solutions can optimize existing infrastructures while helping telecommunications companies in finding information such as heavy usage areas, types of devices, areas of improvement and any other problems the subscriber may be facing.

According to him, with strategic investment in new-age technologies and solutions, telecommunications players can build a strong ecosystem required to deliver superior customer experience and thereby, create a differentiated positioning amidst other companies all vying their place in the fiercely competitive market.

Speaking in an interview, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, believed that the sector has done more to lift the country’s economy in diverse ways.

As such, he urged government to do more to support telecommunications infrastructure and “I think we should have the highest level of visibility in terms of protection, in terms of support by government through enabling policies at all levels.”


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