The ash cloud from Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull is still causing a standstill in Northern European airports, and as a result two of my colleagues are extending their stay in Nigeria’s business capital Lagos.
They are there to meet operators and vendors to talk about forthcoming event NigeriaCom, which will take place at the newly built Eko conference centre in Lagos on 28th and 29th September. The event is a new addition to the Com World Series: in 2008 and 2009, the West & Central Africa Com event took place in Nigeria’s administrative capital Abuja, and is now returning to Dakar in Senegal. Feedback from the event concluded that Nigeria was such a booming telecoms market that it required a specific event, while West & Central Africa Com could have a more truly regional feel if located in a relatively smaller market. The idea is proving successful, as both events are attracting high levels of interest from operators, investors, regulators and vendors.
The Dakar event is supported by Senegal’s Minister of Telecommunications, ICT, and Transports Abdourahim Agne, who will preside the opening session. The programme includes representatives from 25 operators, including the major groups investing in the region (MTN, Zain, Orange, Etisalat, Lintel/Africell, Bintel, Intercel), as well as leading telecom solutions vendors (Ericsson, Qualcomm, Corning, Helios Towers, ECI Telecom) and international carriers (Belgacom, Telenor).
The NigeriaCom programme is still being finalised, but it has already received the support of Nigeria’s major operators: already confirmed speakers include the CEOs of MTN Nigeria (Ahmed Farroukh), Starcomms (Maher Qubain), Etisalat Nigeria’s (Steven Evans), Pinet Informatics (Lanre Ajayi) and senior representatives from Zain.
The event will be held at a crucial time in Nigeria’s telecoms market: thanks to the launch of new submarine cables, operators will be able to launch better and more affordable broadband services, which are in great demand. At the same time, they are still to an extent struggling to improve their networks in order to deliver acceptable quality of service and coverage. In addition to these changes, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), will have a new head this year. Ernest Ndukwe, who led the market’s liberalisation and promoted a healthy competitive environment for its stakeholders, came to the end of his 10-year tenure earlier this year. He is currently replaced by Stephen Adedayo Bello as Acting Executive Vice Chairman, and a new head is expected to be announced in the next few months, if not weeks.
NigeriaCom will definitely be a great place to gauge the market’s mood, to discuss its operators' strategies, and hopefully to meet the new executive team at the helm of the NCC.