According to Kamar, Nigeria has got the icing on the investment cake when compared with other markets continent-wide. “Nigeria except for one or two places is ahead of Africa: Population growing faster, total subscriber base growing much faster, 2G subscribers growing nearly double, 3G subsribers growing even faster,” he noted. However, he expressed worries that the 4G subscription is an area of concern. “In Nigeria, we see that the 4G subscription is growing at barely half the range of 4G subscription growth elsewhere. This is the opportunity that ntel intends to latch at in order to be the game changer by deploying a 4G network. According to Kamar, the number of 2G subscriptions across Africa is roughly around 16 per cent, 3G dropped to around 11-12 per cent and 4G is around 9 per cent. “We seemed to be losing on the momentum in mobilising the higher bandwidth; the broadband turf. We seemed to be losing the momentum very graphically in relation to growing broadband. Why are we not growing with the 4G which is the heart of broadband?
The ntel boss explained that being the 5th operator is just a tag that does not in any way distract from ability to make a huge impact in a market already dominated by MTN, Glo, Airtel and Etisalat. He said that MTN once faced similar threat when it came into Nigeria in 2001 with CDMA operators in dominance. Going back in time, he said that MTN actually entered the Nigerian market as the 11th operator if the previous operators were all to be accounted for. “And what is relevant here is the example of MTN which is no slacker in relation to growing subscriptions. According to him, the game changer for MTN at the point of entry in the market was the GSM technology it adopted at the time the market was dominated by fixed wireless and CDMA.
Not bothered by the “5th operator” status, he said unequivocally that “there is space aplenty” for the new entrant in the market. Using the tele-density as the active fulcrum for the paradigm shift, Kamar said that using the tele-density as a factor of the total population as an indicator of the economically active SIMs presents a huge opportunity for new prospects as more people become gainfully employed over the next couple of years. He said that with a potential 15 million new jobs creating new wealth over the next five years, market opportunity in Nigeria is clearly one of the highest in the world. Kamar stressed that the Nigerian market is still very hungry.
Still on why ntel is potentially positioned to make the difference, Kamar said that “the reality of the way 3G has been deployed is responsible to the low uptake of Internet access in Nigeria which records higher volume over 2G networks compared to the access via 3G. I want Internet access but don’t just give it to me via 3G networks. 3G is 2100 and 2G is 1800 and the difficulty is that 3G has been deployed on a 2G network grid. And it simply means that the signals don’t get to the right places to serve the right customers. And that means that the experience is a universally poor one.
He would not mince words that “Nigeria is under performing in relation to the amount of data that we consume and this is having impact on our GDP. It seems to me the evidence is compelling that when you don’t have as much through put on data it affects your productivity, which affects your wealth and affects your GDP and your investments. That virtuous circle needs to be reinforced. The way to do it is through high speed broadband and therefore here is our story. Our story is the pure play 4G network and it is simply a better technology and frankly it is better commercially too. And the reality is there is no alternative in terms of spectrum from NCC as yet. The reality is that there are plenty of devices out there to do 4G and provide 4G on voice and on data even on our spectrum the 1800/900 there are plenty of devices. Our story is that of pure 4G network, with high speed broadband and better technology. We see ourselves as offering Nigeria the key ingredient, with the deployment of 4G.”