If you are ever interested in investing in a telecommunication business, or any other related business, these strategies will be very invaluable. The good thing about most business strategies is that the same principles apply to most other industries. So, what you are going to learn about telecom companies in Nigeria here will help you in any other business area you decide to invest in.
Nigeria has experienced great strides in the world of telecommunication, and together with other African countries, has been able to match up with the rest of the world. My emphasis on Nigeria in this article is because of two reasons. First, I have been able to study Nigeria’s telecommunication industry more closely and intensely. Second, Nigeria was among the first African countries to receive telecommunication services in Africa.
Brief History of Nigeria’s Telecommunication
Nigeria’s telecommunication history traces back to the colonial era in 1886, when a British firm, Cable and Wireless Ltd, laid telegraphic submarine cable lines connecting Lagos to London. This was followed by the installation of telephone lines connecting Jebba, Ilorin, Calabar, Ibadan, and other parts of the country, to London.
Shortly after then, in 1985, Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) was established. NITEL was owned by the then federal government of Nigeria and it enjoyed monopoly status before the establishment of present-day private telecommunication companies like MTN, Globacom, 9mobile, and Airtel.
NITEL was a product of the telecom arm of the Post and Telecommunications (P&T) department of the Ministry of Communication, and the Nigeria External Communications (NET). P&T dealt with internal communication services in Nigeria through telegraph and manual telephone exchange services with a magneto switchboard of 100 lines, the latter of which was introduced in Lagos in 1908.
Transition into Modern-Day Telecommunication
Several other telecommunication interventions were experienced in the country which led up to what it has become today. The company which established NET, African Direct Telegraph Company, later became part of the Imperial & International Communications Ltd., on its formation in 1929. By 1914, this company had already serviced communication in several African including Accra, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Freetown, Cameroun, and Nigeria.
Still, in 1929, Imperial & International Communications Ltd was rebranded into Cable and Wireless in Lagos, Nigeria by the parent company, African Direct Telegraph Company. It was after this period that Nigeria acquired a partnership with the Nigerian arm of Cable and Wireless, and renamed the company Nigerian External Telecommunications (NET).
Until 2001 when ECONET was established, NET continued to serve major Nigerian cities like Ibadan, Enugu, Kaduna, and Port-Harcourt, and was also credited with the introduction of the International Direct Dialing Services. These were the days when present-day wireless telecommunication was emerging.
Wireless Telecommunication in Nigeria
ECONET Wireless, the first wireless telecommunication company in Nigeria was established by Strive Masiyiwa, the Zimbabwean businessman, philanthropist, and youths mentor. After a series of events that Strive has sometimes described as political rifts against his company, he left the country and sold off the company to Zain Mobile. This company has evolved through different administrations and developments to become the present-day Airtel NG.
ECONET was able to thrive as a true wireless network in Nigeria through the introduction of the Global System of Communications (GSM) in Nigeria by the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; GSM replaced NITEL and its subsidiaries, and MTN displaced ECONET in August 2001 through a facilitated partnership with Chief Obasanjo.
MTN, which is currently the largest mobile network in Africa, was significantly facilitated in Nigeria through Obasanjo’s interventions, not just the political support he rendered, but also through the installment of the most extensive digital microwave transmission infrastructure in Africa in 2003, the Y’elloBahn.
In 2002, NITEL tried to resurface into the mobile telecommunication scene as MTEL. MTEL effectively competed with private-owned telecommunication companies in Nigeria then, and together with MTN, and ECONET Wireless was one of the three telecommunication networks licensed by the Nigerian government.
These companies served under the 900 and 1800 MHZ frequency band spectrum and charged users 50 Naira per minute of talk time. In 2003, Mike Adenuga established the first indigenous mobile telecommunication network, Globacom, which introduced the per-second billing system.
Today, mobile connectivity in Nigeria, like in most other parts of Africa and the World, has stayed all-time high. Internet connectivity has advanced very significantly, with the dominant mobile networks including MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile (formerly Etisalat).
Need for Effective Business Strategies
With all these mobile telecommunication companies competing on the scene, there is a need for an effective business strategy. The telecommunication rivals are constantly evolving to serve the Nigerian populace better and outperform their competitors. However, while most if not all of them are already adopting some of these strategies, the stronger they uphold these business strategies, the more successful the company becomes.
Like most businesses, several other factors affect how successful these companies eventually become even with the thorough knowledge and application of some of these strategies. These include capital and financial input potentials of the company, such that the bigger companies are more “enabled” to practice the strategies than others.
Taking a peek at the most successful of them, here are a few business strategies I can highlight from them that may be beneficial to you if you have an interest in businesses related to telecommunication, as well as any other business in general.
Top Strategies for Telecommunication Business
Here are the top business strategies I have been able to highlight from observational and peer-interviewer studies of the major mobile telecommunication companies in Nigeria. As mentioned severally, these business strategies can be applied to other business areas and industries, as they directly relate to customer satisfaction.
1. Quick and easy customer care service channels
What happens when your customers need some help with a product or service offered by you, or if they run into some problems along the way? Mobile communication was primarily established to bridge communication gaps and to do so as timely as possible. Therefore, it is extremely important that your agents are easily reached and available round as round-the-clock as possible.
Most of the telecommunication companies, including MTN, were established in Nigeria to facilitate trade and business activities within the country. This means any problem encountered by your customers will have a serious effect on their business dependent on your telecommunication services. Hence, prompt attention through customer service channels must be prioritized and strengthened.
2. A widespread coverage of network connectivity
In the telecommunication industry, customer confidence and satisfaction are directly linked to the company’s network coverage across the country. It is difficult to achieve 100 percent coverage across all 36 states of Nigeria in all the villages but as a fact, the companies with the widest coverage have the largest user base.
Also in terms of network coverage, you want to minimize downtimes when users move from one location to another. Once people see that you are reliable, widespread, and almost always available, they will be motivated to choose your business brand instead.
3. Maximal internet speed and call quality
Nigeria is not left out of the information revolution. The internet has taken over all other sources of information, business, and entertainment. Social media platforms keep sprouting and evolving, and speed is prioritized over anything else.
Young people, in the order of Gen-Z, dominate social media and internet-based information platforms, and speed is the information language of this generation. Whatever is slow is appalling by default. It gives each and every one of us a very unsatisfactory experience. Thus, if you want to get the majority of the population as your users, including the dominant Gen-Zs, you might need to prioritize your connectivity speed.
How this relates to other non-telecommunication businesses is straightforward. Rendering services and products at a convincing speed will always be a competitive advantage to any business enterprise.
4. Promotional offers and gifts
Special incentives and indirect business services have been shown to be effective in driving customer engagement with a business brand. These special incentives and indirect business services come as promotional offers, gift plans, and special discounts.
Since the outset of modern telecommunication in Nigeria, telecommunications have harnessed this opportunity in winning over customers to their brand, and this has continued till the present day.
In any business venture, you are currently pursuing, including those outside the telecommunication sector, regular promotional offers are one easy way you can draw a large multitude of customers to your business.
5. Get customers’ feedback
Times and seasons are changing. What is strictly required a few years ago may no longer apply today, even though some old strategies may continue to be relevant. This is where customer feedback comes into play.
Customers’ feedback makes you understand the immediate needs of your customers. By showing that you care about your customers’ insights, you make them feel like a part of the business and thus, increase their positive engagement with your brand.
There are many more business strategies that can give your business an exponential boost but I have chosen to highlight just these five for the purpose of this post. These business strategies are especially seen in operation in the telecommunication industry, and I think they hold some important lessons for other business sectors as well.
All of these business strategies in the telecommunication sector are focused on improving customer satisfaction. This customer-is-king ideology is important in driving more customer engagement and securing more customers on a daily basis.
These business strategies are adapted from the ideologies of the most successful telecommunication companies in Nigeria. That means your brand can be exceptionally successful as well if you adopt these business strategies.
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