MTN tasks states on broadband access, to invest N600b till 2024
• Rewards 20 customers with brand new SUVs
Telecommunications firm, MTN has promised to invest N600 billion in the sector over the next three years. MTN however, appealed to state governments to ensured that broadband access expands to underserved and unserved areas.
MTN Nigeria Chairman, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, who reassured on the commitment of the firm to investing the funds in broadband infrastructure, 5G, Fintechs and other key areas, said progress has been made in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector of the country, owing to the liberalisation of the telecoms sub-sector.
Speaking in Lagos at the weekend, where MTN presented 20 brand new cars to some customers, including The GuardianNewspaper Saturday Editor, Chuks Nwanne, for their loyalty in the last two decades, Ndukwe said the multiplier effect of the liberalisation can be felt on every sectors of the economy.
With assurance to do more, the MTN Chairman, said success of the telecoms firm is traceable to everyone that accepted the brand right from the beginning.
Seeking more customer support, Ndukwe disclosed that the telecommunications firm would also focus on rural telephony that would ensure the entire country is connected.
On his part, MTN Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, while also appreciating Nigerians on what he described as a transformative journey, said Nigeria’s digital journey had just started.
According to Toriola, MTNN is a Nigerian entity, “and as such, we are committed to this economy and we shall be connecting more Nigerians as we move ahead.”
Answering questions on broadband access and states’ challenges, the Chief Regulatory Officer, MTN, Johnson Oyewo, said a state-wide approach is key to expanding broadband access, “but Right of Way is still expensive.”
Oyewo, who thanked the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami and the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, for engaging the states governors on RoW challenges, said charges and levies should further be reviewed downward to enable even development. He said state governments are seen as strategic partners.
The Chief Technical Officer, Muhammed Rufai said 5G has already been tested, “but we are waiting for regulatory issues to be resolved. As soon as that is done, I think 5G will come on stream.”
On her part, the Chief Customer Executive, Ugonna Nwoye, said customer loyalty is key to the brand. “We don’t take it for granted. It has been a centre of concentration and attraction from day one.”
Nwoye said the firm is expanding, which is done by investing, supporting and encouraging partners, and also by getting feedback from customers.
The newly- appointed Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya, said the company is targeting women because they are nation-builders and decision-makers in the home.
“Part of this is to also see how we can empower female entrepreneurs; a lot is being done in partnership with the Bank of Industry. We are also going to continue to scale up our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme and scholarship, refocusing on the Nigerian youth.”
For the youths in particular, Sanya said MTN, in partnership with the Bank of Industry, is opening up access to funds of up to N2 million to help them innovate and provide societal solutions that are scalable. “The young people have up to N2 million to access as a process loan and the Bank of Industry will check and do an estimate and determine how much you really need.
“On the N2 million, 20 per cent of it or N200, 000 is a grant. There is a reason why they are loans, so that recipients can be accountable in using the funds that they get. So 20 per cent in grants but you pay back the rest at five per cent flat per annum, and you have a repayment moratorium of about six months.”
She added that the entrepreneurship programme is not just about doling out money. “There is a formal training that leads up to pitching and release of the funds.”