Visafone, EMTS go live soon as telecoms market hits 41.5 million lines in Nigeria


The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms sector regulator said last weekend that two new companies, Visafone and Emerging Market Telecommunications Service (EMTS) are soon to roll out commercial service to increase competition in the telephony market.

Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive, NCC, Ernest Ndukwe who confirmed this at the NCC-organised Telecom Consumer Parliament in Lagos says the new entrants will bring additional dial tones to more Nigerians just as a new report by the regulator indicates that the overall market peaked at 41.5million active subscriber lines in December 2007.

Ndukwe did not give specific details of the commercial rollout dates of the two new entrants into the market but says that Visafone combines three acquired companies: Cellcom, Independent Telephone Network (ITN) and Bourdex, fused to form the imminent mega telecoms company.

This also confirms a Technology Times report of the acquisition of Bourdex by Visafone promoted by Managing Director/CEO, Zenith Bank PLC, Jim Ovia. The new entrant player recently received a vote of confidence when 13 Nigerian banks pooled US$200 million to complement Visafone’s rollout, capacity building and expansion of its planned bouquet of voice, data, internet and allied third generation (3G) services billed to be commercially available this quarter.

The participating banks in the US$200 million loan syndication deal include First Bank of Nigeria Plc, GTBank, Oceanic, Zenith, Intercontinental Bank and Eko Bank. Others include Bank PHB, Fidelity Bank, First Inland Bank, Afribank, Sterling Bank, Access and FCMB. The deal also features Afro Financial Corporation.

On the other hand, EMTS is the licensee for the US$400 million licence bundling the last GSM frequency and unified access service licence (UASL) issued Mubadala Development Company, the UAE-government investment vehicle that has partnered with Nigerian investors to play in the nation’s telecoms market.

Very little is known of the road map of EMTS in the Nigerian market other than the announcement that Mubadala has sold 40 per cent stake to Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), the UAE telecom company that will operate the planned telecoms business in Nigeria. The remaining 60 per cent is split half way between Mubadala and its Nigerian allies.

Meanwhile, according to NCC data, overall active subscriber lines peaked at 41,511,612 lines with the GSM sector in unrivalled dominance of the telecoms market with 39,533,459 lines while mobile while fixed/ fixed wireless sector follows with 1,593,838 lines and mobile CDMA sector with 384,315 lines.

MTN leads the overall telecoms market with 15,873,000 lines accounting for 38 per cent of the market followed by Glo mobile with 12,385,959 lines accounting for 30 per cent of the nation’s telecoms market.

Celtel placed third on the table with 11,098,500 lines representing 27 per cent of the total market. All players in the fixed/fixed wireless sector with a combined capacity of 1,593,838 lines representing 4 per cent of the market placed fourth on the ranking followed by mobile CDMA sector with 384,315 lines representing 1 per cent of the market. At the bottom is Mtel with 176,000 lines accounting for below 1 per cent market share.

Within the GSM market sector with 39,534,296 lines, MTN leads with 40 per cent of the mobile market share; Glo mobile follows with 31 per cent; Celtel places third with 28 per cent and Mtel is a distant fourth with 1 per cent of the GSM subscribers nationwide at the end of December, 2007.

Technology Times