Power Minister Barth Nnaji resigns
Mid day Tuesday August 28, 2012, Prof
Barth Nnaji’s request to resign as
Nigeria’s Minister of Power was
reportedly received and accepted by
President Goodluck Jonathan.
The former Minister had a turbulent
history of a chequered desire to manage
Nigeria’s power system both as a private
power producer and as a Minister in the
As Chairman of a company known as
Geometric Power Ltd, the professor
superintended a project that pursued the
construction of a 188 MW power plant, to
transmit over 110km overhead lines, 4
substations, a 27km gas pipeline, an
estate to accommodate up to 250 workers,
5 access roads to the power stations and
sub stations, and a 4 story office block
at the total cost of approximately N42.6
For 8 years the project failed to
deliver while it piled up bank debts.
Speaking to Aba Business community on
June 19, 2008, Prof Barth Nnaji told
them in an Enyimba Lecture that 'The Aba
IPP (i.e. the Geometric Power Ltd
Project) is galloping to completion. In
roughly 10 months time, the entire
project will be commissioned and it will
herald a new era for Aba which it will
have reliable electric power like any
other city in the developed world'.
It never did.
In that same lecture, he recounted his
frustration to the Aba people thus:
‘We cannot say that this project has
been easy. We have had to contend with
the challenges of being a pioneer sector
power developer in Nigeria. We have had
to withstand so many due diligences by
lenders, some of whom did not see the
value in investing in Aba. We have had
to present Aba to the international
community as a “diamond in the rough”
and the adequate electricity supply will
put a smile to this great
entrepreneurial city. Many have wondered
how we can mitigate the risk of building
a power plant in the Niger-Delta region
and we have explained that Aba is not in
the Niger-Delta region. At the same
time, we have had to contend with
threats of youths and traditional rulers
who have brought the negative aspects of
the Niger-Delta conundrum to Aba. We
have had to spend tremendous amount of
time and resources on getting the youths
and some of these traditional rulers to
appreciate the fact that Geometric Power
is bringing money from outside to build
facilities that will add value to their
business and their lives rather than the
situation in the Niger-Delta where oil
is exploited and taken away from the
soil of the Niger-Delta region’.
Prof Nnaji was appointed Special Adviser
to Dr Goodluck Jonathan, Acting
President in 2010 and converted to
Minister of Power in 2011 when Dr
Jonathan became substantive President.
He spent virtually all time doing battle
with the workers of PHCN and especially
with the Workers’ Union which had the
support of the Central Labour body, The
Nigerian Labour Congress. They exchanged
accusations some which in other climes
would have raised much dust very early
in the quarrel.
Surprisingly the Minister accepted a
BPE’s solution agenda which is a repeat
contract management, a template which
BPE used to send NITEL to sleep
permanently a few years back. While with
NITEL, 4 persons were hired in the name
of PENTASCOPE to manage NITEL, 8 persons
have been hired for $22.5million this
time to manage the Nigerian Transmission
Company, a subsidiary of PHCN.
The manner of the present contract is
almost carbon copy of the PENTASCOPE
story especially on the mood of the
workers which the 8 persons would use to
implement the contract.
The magic of the contract was still
being awaited when the professor
Cameroun connects to MainOne Fibre
The Republic of Cameroun has entered
into agreement with MainOne Cable
Company to provide a landing point at
Douala on the MainOne’s 1.9Tbps
submarine cable which already has
landing points in Nigeria, Ghana, Cote
d'Ivoire, Senegal, the Canary Islands,
Morocco and London.
Before now Cameroun was connected on the
SAT3 Fibre via a 50km fibre loop in
FG raises Committee to plan Broadband
Technology Times reported early in the
week that a top-level Presidential
Broadband Working Group to chart a
roadmap for Nigeria has been set up by
the Federal Government. The Committee
will soon be inaugurated.
According to the magazine, the Committee
will be expected to develop a roadmap to
realise the achievement of pervasive
broadband infrastructure and services in
the country and is expected to submit a
report in three-months. Its membership
is drawn from a wide spectrum of
industry players, government agencies,
and service providers.
It lists a few names who are already
known to be key members of the
Committee. They include Messers Ernest
Ndukwe, Jim Ovia, ‘Gbenga Sesan, Stanley
Jegede and Mrs Juliet Emuhian.
New ICT Policy to Emerge Soon
There are indications that the Federal
Executive Council may have approved a
new National Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) Policy
Inside sources at the Federal Ministry
of Communication Technology revealed
that an Approval in Principle was handed
down to the Minister who presented a
draft on the subject last week. One of
the key elements of the policy is a
unification of industry regulation which
details are yet to work out once the
approval in principle was obtained.
Reliable sources say the Policy actively
lays out the inputs required to
strengthen all productive sectors of the
economy and ultimately transform Nigeria
into a knowledge based, and globally
competitive country. It establishes a
comprehensive framework for the ICT
sector that will encourage and stimulate
investment and also enable rapid
expansion of ICT networks and services
that are accessible to all at reasonable
It expects Government to be fanatical in
its exploitation of broadband internet
resources as it also prescribes that
Government will pursue, by the end of
2017, a five-fold increase in broadband
penetration over the 2012 penetration
The 80 page document is reported to have
36 repetitions of the most used word,
and the word is ‘Broadband’.
The final draft of the Policy is a
total re-work and overhaul of an earlier
document which was roundly criticised by
industry stakeholders to whom it was
presented earlier in March in Lagos.
COURT VERDICT: Apple $1billion Up,
Samsung $1billion Down
The jury finally said Samsung indeed
infringed Apple’s patent rights and
slammed a fine of $1.05billion less than
50% of Apple’s asking fine.
Far from the two-daggers-ends idea which
Judge Lucy Koh had dropped when she
counselled the two giants to sort thing
out one week before the verdict.
Obviously the war is still actively on.
The jury specifically said Samsung, by
using Apple’s creations in its products,
infringed six out of Apple's seven
Apple also asked that the entire
products that came under the
infringement scope be banned in the USA.
No verdict yet on that request and
Samsung has indicated it would appeal
the immediate judgement.
World’s Pioneer Man on the Moon Rests
Neil Armstrong who landed with his left
foot on the moon and made the historic
statement ‘That’s one small step for a
man, one giant leap for mankind’ and
walked on the moon on July 20, 1969
passed on to eternity last Saturday at
82 years old.
Neil Armstrong was one of the Apollo 11
Astronauts who navigated the moon for
USA and has since lived a quiet life in
Ohio. Many writers describe Armstrong as
a great but evasive man who simply
believed he was doing his job. His
family was quoted to have asked those
who wished to celebrate Neil Armstrong
to merely ‘honour his example of
service, accomplishments and modesty’.
The Apollo 11 crew members; Neil
Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz
Aldrin were given a special reception in
2009 by President Barrack Obama when he
assumed presidency of USA.
Cause of death: Heart troubles.
CommTech Industry reforms further
NBC-NCC merger now approved by FG
A unification of regulation in the
Communication Technology industry has
been approved by the Federal Government
This is popularly known as the merger of
the Nigerian Communications Commission,
NCC, and the National Broadcasting
A sustained call on government to
exploit the advantages of technology in
manners that make communication
businesses easier to conduct, cheaper to
transact, faster to administer and
ultimately cheaper and stress-free for
the consumer has been long and it would
appear that those who think only in
terms of interests may have finally lost
out to those who argue vision.
Editor’s Own View
Time to Strike is NOW!!!
Nigeria’s Minister of Communication
Technology has recently shared some
Mrs Omobola Johnson announced the
Nigerian government would initiate a
Computer Ownership Scheme for Students
of Tertiary Institutions across the
country. She has been visiting markets,
factories, maybe banks and finance
consultants. If she ends up implementing
this Scheme, it will put her name in a
special place in Nigeria’s history.
She was to discover that there are not
Nigerian-made computers in the local
market and expressed great surprise over
this fact. It is possible that this was
a politician’s statement, but it was a
bad statement. If our Minister does not
already know this particular problem and
after 13 months in office, something
must not be adding up.
It is advisable that the Hon Minister
takes immediate action on her plan as
delays are the thieves of grand ideas.
Those around the Minister may be telling
her the idea is novel. It is not. It is
just that the standard is to talk,
talk, talk and produce good documents.
The problems are never in putting the
ideas together. The problems begin when
the implementation of the idea begins.
The only severe problems at the current
stage are that our banks are not
designed to work in the first place and
investors do not know what they have to
do to impress government. Fortunately,
ICT-inspired solutions to some of those
hurdles exist today.
We wish the Minister good luck and
confess that if she sees this scheme
through, she deserves to say “I came, I
saw, I conquered.” Many of her
predecessors came, saw and left.
For emphasis, time is critical on this
issue. A version of the report on her
process already mentioned an
implementation that would commence
before the end of the year. The truth is
that if it does not commence within this
year, we can kiss the idea bye-bye for
Nigeria has fielded 37 Ministers of
Communications under various
appellations. That works out to 16
months per Minister on average. The
longest serving spent a little above 3
years and the shortest a little below 3
There are only about four and a half
Ministers that we can truly say came,
saw and moved the industry from point A
to point B. The half we speak of did not
move the industry either way but did
have serious engagements and seemed to
believe he had a mandate. His character
scored him the half, not his
performance. All four and half were
civilians and they showed commendable
concern for the common good above other
Olawale Ige stood out among the four
because he mid-wived the industry
liberalisation and remained within the
industry to be relevant into the
The overdue Scheme is very commendable,
fragile, and timely, but it must be
implemented NOW to earn all of these
descriptions especially as we have in
place a central government which will
rather improve performance by hiring
‘Happy Birthday’ - A Celebration of
Come to think of it, nothing is worth
celebrating more than the phenomenon
that has turned around the way we live,
work and play in only 21 years. It has
also allowed us to do it so faster,
bigger and cheaper. That is the
Commercial usage of the Internet came
along in 1991 thus making it 21 years
old on August 7 2012.
The following two stories are culled
directly from where they are posted on
the web and they make the point that it
is about the only thing that deserves to
get a happy birthday card from us.
Also at this year’s anniversary is our
desire to celebrate two Nigerian youths,
Messers Saheed Adepoju and Anibe Agama
who with their success at rolling out
INYE, the Nigerian Ipad, makes the
celebration proper and complete.
And CyberschuulNews too
The CyberschuulNews idea incidentally
was also conceived around August 2001.
It debuted by announcing the success of
Mr Gbenga Sesan, pioneer Nigeria IT
Youth Ambassador, who was 24 years old
then and had just beaten 46 other
competitors to win the IT Youth Award
initiated by The Executive Cyberschuul
(As THE CYBERSCHUUL was initially
named). H reigned for two years and
handed over to Mr Edward Popoola for
another two years reign.
There were 46 alumni of the Institute
who had email accounts at the time and
they made up the initial mailing list.
Our promises to deliver weekly has been
kept and as of today 482 weekly
editions, all duly archived, have been
rolled out with several midweek,
emergency or special untitled editions.
We are now circulating to over 54,000
subscribers among who are political and
industry leaders, IT/Telecom
professionals, senior executives and
enthusiasts in all continents.
Many happy returns, our esteemed
readers. And ditto, our sponsors.
Welcome to info.cern.ch
The website of the world's first-ever
1990 was a momentous year in world
events. In February, Nelson Mandela was
freed after 27 years in prison. In
April, the space shuttle Discovery
carried the Hubble Space Telescope into
orbit. And in October, Germany was
Then at the end of 1990, a revolution
took place that changed the way we live
Tim Berners-Lee followed his dream of a
better, easier way to communicate via
computers on a global scale, which led
him to create the World Wide Web.
CERN, the European Organization for
Nuclear Research, is where it all began
in March 1989. A physicist, Tim
Berners-Lee, wrote a proposal for
information management showing how
information could be transferred easily
over the Internet by using hypertext,
the now familiar point-and-click system
of navigating through information. The
following year, Robert Cailliau, a
systems engineer, joined in and soon
became its number one advocate.
The idea was to connect hypertext with
the Internet and personal computers,
thereby having a single information
network to help CERN physicists share
all the computer-stored information at
the laboratory. Hypertext would enable
users to browse easily between texts on
web pages using links. The first
examples were developed on NeXT
Berners-Lee created a browser-editor
with the goal of developing a tool to
make the Web a creative space to share
and edit information and build a common
hypertext. What should they call this
new browser: The Mine of Information?
The Information Mesh? When they settled
on a name in May 1990, it was the
Info.cern.ch was the address of the
world's first-ever web site and web
server, running on a NeXT computer at
CERN. The first web page address was
which centred on information regarding
the WWW project. Visitors could learn
more about hypertext, technical details
for creating their own webpage, and even
an explanation on how to search the Web
for information. There are no
screenshots of this original page and,
in any case, changes were made daily to
the information available on the page as
the WWW project developed. You may find
a later copy (1992) on the World Wide
Web Consortium website.
However, a website is like a telephone;
if there's just one it's not much use.
Berners-Lee's team needed to send out
server and browser software. The NeXT
systems however were far advanced over
the computers people generally had at
their disposal: a far less sophisticated
piece of software was needed for
By spring of 1991, testing was underway
on a universal line mode browser, which
would be able to run on any computer or
terminal. It was designed to work simply
by typing commands. There was no mouse,
no graphics, just plain text, but it
allowed anyone with an Internet
connection access to the information on
The historic NeXT computer used by Tim
Berners-Lee in 1990, on display in the
Microcosm exhibition at CERN. It was the
first web server, hypermedia browser and
During 1991 servers appeared in other
institutions in Europe and in December
1991, the first server outside the
continent was installed in the US at
SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center).
By November 1992, there were 26 servers
in the world, and by October 1993 the
figure had increased to over 200 known
web servers. In February 1993, the
National Center for Supercomputing
Applications (NCSA) at the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign released
the first version of Mosaic, which was
to make the Web available to people
using PCs and Apple Macintoshes.
... and the rest is Web history.
Although the Web's conception began as a
tool to aid physicists answer tough
questions about the Universe, today its
usage applies to various aspects of the
global community and affects our daily
Today there are upwards of 80 million
websites, with many more computers
connected to the Internet, and hundreds
of millions of users. If households
nowadays want a computer, it is not to
compute, but to go on the Web.
The above is taken from http://info.cern.ch/
World’s First Website Turns 21
Jordan Richardson on August 7, 2012
The Internet has come a long way over a
relatively short period of time, moving
from websites that were difficult to
navigate to full-on social networking
sites. Now, everything you can imagine –
and some things you can’t imagine – is
online in some capacity. People are
shopping, playing games, watching
movies, listening to music, and doing
who knows what else on the Internet.
The fun all began 21 years ago
yesterday, as Tim Berners-Lee – the
inventor of the World Wide Web –
published the first website from a
laboratory in the Swiss Alps.
The website is still online today.
The site was updated frequently, with
its initial purpose being suitably to
explain exactly what the newfangled
Internet was. It explained how users
could create their very own websites.
The first website was created on a NeXT
computer and went live on August 6,
The site was only accessed by a small
amount of researchers from CERN, the
European Organization for Nuclear
Research. Berners-Lee was an independent
contractor with CERN and he started the
process by building something called
ENQUIRE, a personal database that held
software models and presented a new way
to work with hypertext. Each new page of
ENQUIRE was built or “linked” to another
existing page. The “web” had begun.
As Berners-Lee went on, he built a
number of tools necessary for the World
Wide Web to come into fruition. These
included HyperText Transfer Protocol
(HTTP), HyperText Markup Language
(HTML), the first browser, the first Web
server, and server software.
CERN users were encouraged to use this
new technology after the organization’s
telephone network was put on it.
The rest of the world was largely
ignorant of this fantastic technology
and didn’t really get in touch with the
Internet until the introduction of the
Mosaic web browser. The browser was
developed by the National Center for
Supercomputing Applications. Funding for
Mosaic was delivered in part thanks to a
program initiated by Al Gore.
After its popularity began to erupt,
there was no turning back.
The Internet is now ubiquitous and a
great deal has changed since Berners-Lee
introduced the World Wide Web 21 years
ago. We went through a dot-com bubble
and saw that burst into a pile of
companies developing business
opportunities online. And with Web 2.0,
the dream of Berners-Lee to have a
“Semantic Web” came true.
Today, we carry the Internet with us
everywhere. We no longer need
supercomputers to log on; we can log on
with our phones and are almost always
connected in some way to the World Wide
Web. It is indeed exciting and somewhat
frightening to imagine what things will
look like in another 21 years.
Did you like this post?
TheTelecomBlog.com publishes daily news,
editorial, thoughts, and controversial
opinion – you can subscribe by: RSS
(click here), or email (click here).
Written by: Jordan Richardson.
taken from http://www.thetelecomblog.com/2012/08/07/worlds-first-website-turns-21/
Welcome INYE, Nigeria’s answer to the
The Encipher Story
The story of Encipher is a story of
dreams coming true for myself and my
co-founder, Anibe Agamah.
After we completed secondary school back
in 1999, we were taught programming by a
special centre headed by Mr Kunle Fakoya.
We were trained by Segun Medubi on C
language and Assembly language. It was
roughly for three months before the
kaduna 1999 crisis disrupted our
learning and had to stop. Anibe got
admission at University of Abuja where
he went on to study Computer science. I
got admission into Federal University of
Technology, Minna, where i went on to
study Mathematics and Computer science.
In 2005, after graduation, Anibe and I
worked for a Software consulting firm.
Anibe worked as a web developer and i
worked as a software developer. In 2006,
we both decided to go do a Msc in the
Back in 2008 in the UK, the recession
hit an all time high and then i decided
to register a business in the UK. We
registered the name Encipher Limited
which was simply to do project
management, Web development and Software
development. We got some few web
projects and managed some client's
projects. In 2009, i came back to
Nigeria as my visa was about to expire
due to lack of work to help with
extending the visa.
I worked at the same consulting firm i
worked in before leaving for the UK. I
was now a business analyst but it soon
got murky working there and got fired in
Aug 2009 and kicked out of the
accomodation. I registered Encipher
Nigeria in June 2008. I had the original
plan to commence implementing Microsoft
Dynamics AX ERP for organizations and
MDAs but it was going to be a huge task
so i dropped the idea.
I had always wanted to build services
that would not involve the Government.
We had always wanted to build a service
which involves a large consumer base and
monetize that consumer base. In Sept
2009, i got another job as a Quality
Assurance officer. I worked for a
Transaction switching company which was
aiming to compete with Interswitch.
In january 2010, Apple IPAD launched and
we believed that was the chance we were
looking for to launch a product for the
growing population adopting mobile
Armed with $300, social media, a drive
to change the way ICT is perceived
within Nigeria and by the external
world, we decided to launch a tablet
from Nigeria in April 2010.
We had partnered with a blogger, TechLoy,
and used that platform to broadcast to
the world our ambitious plans. The whole
world was interested and almost crashed
Techloy servers. As we expected, we were
greeted with skepticism from people
thinking we were scammers looking to get
funds from external people to build
plants or that we were posing to simply
However we expected such reactions and
pushed ahead with the dream and drive to
give alternative tablets to the
population with a cultural twist to the
We called out tablet INYE. INYE is an
igala word which translates to numeric
Since we announced in april 2010, it
made us the first company to conceive an
idea from within Africa before Samsung
launched their Galaxy tab brand of
We had a simple showcase of the device
at the British Council building in
Abuja, where people had a chance to have
a look at the device and offer their
insights. It was easy to let them know
what type of device it was because the
IPAD had set up the momentum.
I pitched the idea to my parents and i
got enough funding to bring in 100 units
of INYE and sales commenced in September
2010. We sold through retailers like
Silverbirds and also via Tech related
people. Following the success of this, i
decided to quit full time employment Nov
2010 after they had fallen on hard times
to work on Encipher full time.
Following this, we launched Inye-2 at
Google Nigeria 2011.
We were been featured in WIRED UK
magazine as the only Nigerian
entrepreneur alongside other African
entrepreneurs. (Aug 2011 edition ). This
was mentioned by the British PM, James
Cameron when he visited the country last
Following this, we were also featured in
Sunday Times UK (Feb 26th 2012) where we
were referred to as Lion Kings and where
our tablet was dubbed the "AfriPad".
Following the widespread popularity of
this article which outlined how the
African consumer was changing and the
possibilities in Africa, we were
contacted by CNN international.
CNN featured encipher on March 16th 2012
as the alternative to the IPad-3 which
was also the day it was launched
worldwide. Following this, there was a
huge interest worldwide and we had over
8000+ visits to our website and
interests to become retailers.
We also had our story aired on the BBC
Africa dream series on July 20th where
the Honourable Minister of Communication
Technology, Mrs Johnson was featured as
well. We were featured in the SUNDAY
Guardian of 5th August 2012 and also
Vanguard of 6th August 2012.
Round Up on Nigeria’s Broadband Plan,
The Nigerian Communications Commission,
NCC has refocused its State Accelerated
Broadband Initiative, SABI, and the Wire
Nigeria Initiative, WIN, programmes in
form of a new Broadband master plan and
set to deliver it under an Open Access
“The Open Access Model is expected to
help Nigerian’s plug into the global
knowledge grid and stay competitive with
other countries”, Dr Juwah, Executive
Vice Chairman of NCC told the Nigeria
Broadband Forum in Lagos, July 26, 2012.
The key elements driving the objective
focus on open access deployment of fibre
infrastructure, according to Dr. Juwah,
is to achieve high level of penetration
across all geo-political zones,
contribute to GDP growth and development
of knowledge economy, provide
commpetitive and affordable pricing,
ensure intelligent incentives to support
industry players while equipping Nigeria
with leading infrastructure in Africa
The ultimate imperatives for this
objective, he said, is to realize
affordable prizing, high speed
connectivity, high level of coverage and
targetted government support.
Dr. Juwah who spoke to an international
audience including Nigeria’s
Communications Technology Minister, Mrs.
Omobola Johnson, Representative of the
ITU Secretary General, Mr. Desire
Karyabwite, the Secretary of the Africa
Telecommunications Union, ATU, Mr.
Abdoulkarim Soumaila, and a wide range
of experts and Nigerian stakeholders,
said the plan is focused on accelerated
broadband connectivity at affordable
The message of the ITU Sec. Gen. Dr.
Toure was relayed to the forum on video.
Dr Toure commended the efforts of the
drivers of Nigeria’s broadband efforts
and encouraged the government to support
every effort directed towards broadband
availability in Nigeria as this is the
focus of the global ICT community.
Dr. Juwah who dissected a graphic
representation of Nigeria’s model, said
the essence of the presentation is to
equip stakeholders and the investor
community on the direction of the plan
to enable their input before the
implementation, having completed the
preliminary studies of the Nigerian
Dr. Juwah also presented a stakeholder
mapping where the Commission would be
responsible for provision of licenses,
regulation of services, facilitation of
agreements. This relationship is guided
by an indsutry structure of the open
access model of the type being
implemented in Australia.
In explaining the market service
strucutre in the Nigerian model, Dr.
Juwah said involves provision of non
discriminatory broadband access and
services to end users, and provision of
e non-discriminatory equal wholesale
broadband connectivity using active
infrastructure, while NetCos build and
operate passive infrastructure.
Dr. Juwah said the integration of the
SABI and WIN in the current plan was to
expand the horizon in the pursuit of the
mandate of the Commission to promote the
provision of modern universal efficient,
reliable, affordable, and easily
accessible communications services of
the widest range throughout Nigeria”. ,
The ITU Sec. Gen had through his
representative at the even emphasized
the need for establishment of
transparent and effective regulatory
framework and policy for broadband
development in Nigeria.
Minister of Communications Technology,
Mrs. Omobola Johnson had earlier
assured of the support of the Federal
government towards this initiative with
a planned setting up of a Presidential
Committee on Broadband deloyment while
indicating that appropriate pricing and
availability is critical in achieving
universal access to Broadband,
especially in rural areas. Global
phenomenon such as the scissors effect
and economic recession pose significant
threat to the capacity to finance
broadband infrastructure developments.
Stakeholders at the event concluded
among other things that:
• Broadband would facilitate
the growth and availability of
innovative and evolving ICT services
which will increase the national GDP.
• Provision of incentives by
government will stimulate investments in
Broadband deployment similar to the tax
exemption granted to GSM operators at
the inception of GSM mobile services in
• Recent study shows that there
is huge demand gap for broadband
services in Nigeria. However, there is
insufficient infrastructure to support
the provision of broadband to meet the
They also concluded that: strong
government and political commitment
towards broadband provision is required
and that migration to Long Term
Evolution (LTE) technology will require
high level investment. It was also
recommended that spectrum congestion
will need to be addressed through
variety of available options while 4G
frequency spectrum will need to be
licensed by 2015.
One of the conclusions reached at the
forum hosted by the NCC as part of the
processes for provision of robust
broadband services in Nigeria was that
rapid deployment and availability of
broadband will lead to the introduction
of innovative services
MTN, Bribes, National Interest, Lies
et al !!
It is nothing of a breaking news but an
innocuous piece of information which is
now living a life of its own. It
probably would not have if Reuters did
not do a close-up on it. And of course
if somebody did not go to Court.
Nothing new about ex-employees of a few
‘African Champion’ Telcos coming out to
talk about the misdemeanours of their
former employers especially on bribe
matters, poor labour relations, and
outright subjugation of local expertise.
What has been a common thread is that
these folks woke up to such realities
only when they got fired from their
hitherto lucrative positions.
So be it with Chris Kilowan, a former
top shot at MTN and MTN, an undisputable
leader among mobile phone companies in
The story is simple and still very much
MTN sought to compete for the second
mobile operator license in Iran in 2004.
Threw in a bid and was on the way to
clearly losing to Turkcell, an
Istanbul-based rival. The normal runs on
persons who held top position in
Government and Chris Kilowan got talking
with South Africa's then Ambassador to
Tehran, Yusuf Saloojee. Along the line,
Yusuf Saloojee had advised Chris Kilowan
‘never give up on pursuing the second
license even though it appeared Turkcell
And that was a fine opening which MTN
locked into. One thing lead to the other
and MTN eventually ‘won’ the license.
Today it takes 45% share of the mobile
telephone market in Iran and clearly the
What did Tehran officials want that MTN
gave? Not money really but Military
hardware and South Africa's votes before
the United Nations' International Atomic
Energy Agency in favour of Tehran. As it
played out, Tehran got the vote but not
the military hardware. All gained and
lost to high wired politics. And bribe.
In between, money had changed hands and,
wait for it, South Africa’s national
integrity had been patently compromised.
Yusuf Saloojee collected $200,000 from
Chris who had to pay ‘from his pocket’
when the big shots in MTN were not
moving fast and Yussuf needed ‘to buy a
house for his children in SA’. The
bargain was that if and whenever MTN
eventually either paid to Chris for
onward transmission to Yussuf or
directly to Yussuf, Chris would make his
recoup. It never happened. That is MTN
never paid and Chris was eventually
eased out of his job at MTN. Typically
Now Turkcell last March filed a federal
lawsuit in Washington alleging MTN
bribed its way into Iran and cornered
the license which was rightly its own.
It is asking for $4.2 billion in damages
and it got Chris Kilowan into its net to
work against MTN. There the story began
to bloat up. The core of the Turkcell
case is the sworn testimony of Chris
Kilowan, who guided MTN’s bid to ‘win’
the Iranian license and has emerged as
the key witness. Witnessing against MTN,
Indeed Yusuf Saloojee who was South
Afruca's Ambassador to Tehran in 2005
had actually voted in favour of Tehran’s
interest at the United Nations against
South Africa’s interest, working in
MTN’s interest. A few days ago Yussuf,
now South Africa’s Ambassador to Oman,
was suspended pending investigation.
That was after almost everybody
concerned both in Government and at MTN
has told inquisitive media hounds that
they knew nothing about any thing
whether in the past or now.
Many MTN executives who have either
retired or moved on to other jobs told
what might eventually turn out to be
outright lies if Chris and Turkcell are
able to pull things through. Of course,
Chris did all the dirty job and so has
all the clean facts.
Not really an unusual story but one that
is now big. Real BIG.