ICTInterview

Government to enforce local hosting of data through regulatory policy – Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, President, Medallion Communications

Medallion Communications is the leading data centre operator in the country. The President, Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, spoke about myriads industry issues and proffer solutions. Excerpt.

We have competent data centers in Nigeria. Why do local companies still patronise data centres abroad?

The concept of local companies hosting their data abroad is fast changing. Other reason is pricing where they believe that it’s cheaper to host outside the country. We are addressing this thinking, it makes no sense to host outside the country when there are facilities in the country that can address it. New data centers are now coming up with international standards.

I believe that very soon the issue of not patronising local companies will be a thing of the past. Government is also coming with appropriate regulatory framework that will promote local content. Our data centres are located in Lagos and Abuja and we are also building additional data centres in some cities across the country. We really believe in localisation of content. We always ensure that it’s not far away from the people. This is the reason why we are making sure it’s closer as much as possible.

What is the role of the first vice president of ATCON?

As the first vice president of ATCON, my role in this current regime is to actually grow ATCON and its membership and add value to members’ businesses. We have some stakeholders sub-groups set up to ensure that people are together and articulate industry challenges.

We are concern about anti-competition practices in the industry where some companies don’t encourage collaboration. We are trying to address this to make sure everybody, companies collaborate. We have initiatives that will ensure that proper things are done. One of the things we are addressing is liaising with the National Youth Service Corps [NYSC] by ensuring that graduates who studied ICT-related courses are allowed to observe their one year compulsory service in ICT companies.  There are many initiatives that we have rolled out, but as the year progresses they would become obvious.

What is the solution to this interconnect indebtedness?

There is erroneous information that the indebtedness in the industry was due to interconnect issues but we have tried to correct this wrong assumption by saying that interconnect is just a tiny fraction of the indebtedness. Majority of the indebtedness are being owed the infrastructure service providers mainly by the cell-site location providers.  Because they are being owed it has made it difficult for them to expand. This is the height of the challenge in the industry but this is been addressed. 

Secondly, the primary reason for cell-site collocation wasn’t necessarily because the quality of service is low but because of the cost reduction to operators.  Because if you think about it why would you have on a piece of land four mobile operators with each having their own towers, generators to power the same equipment, which can be co-hosted in one tower and all the companies would share the cost. For this, there has been significant cost reduction when companies co-locate. This will also ensure quality of service delivery and the service is getting closer to the users.  

It is assumed that the debtors are big players in the industry; and as such they would rather run aground the smaller players, than pay what they owe. Is that correct?

What the regulator is doing is to ensure that the users do not suffer. I believe this is what they are doing. The regulator is always ensuring that they take good measures to correct this.  The regulator does engage in offline communication with the operators to ensure that the issues are resolved timely without getting to the public domain.

What are we expecting in the next couple of years from Medallion Communications?

 We are working to ensure the ecosystem gets better. We want to ensure that subscribers within every sector of the country enjoy the availability of telecom service. We subscribe to the notion that telecoms service should be a right and it should be accessible to the poor as well. We are trying as much as possible to ensure that quality of service gets to all parts of the country.

Has the industry recovered from the recession?

The ecosystem of the country hasn’t improved because we are just getting out of the elections mood. At Medallion, we are always looking at the bright side of life.  We believe there’s always a better way.

What does it mean for you to be named in 2018 as one of the  TOP 20 ICT CEOs and being named again in 2019?

Every leader always look good as long as the team supports him. We depend on the team that shares our vision. We’ve been blessed with hardworking and intelligent team. We have always viewed challenges as opportunities to grow while we also look for a way out. This has guided us to do our best. It’s a testament that the industry is noticing what we are doing and we need to continue to work hard.

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