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Tech investor, Victor Asemota, rubbishes Tinubu’s claim over Econet

Tech investor, Victor Asemota, rubbishes Tinubu’s claim over Econet

Tech investor, Victor Asemota, has denied the claim by a presidential aspirant, Bola Tinubu, that he brought default telecommunications company, Econet, into Nigeria, during his time as Lagos State Governor.

During his screening before the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential aspirants screening committee, Tinubu, told the panel that he was crucial to the growth of the telecoms industry by introducing Econet Wireless into the Nigerian market.

But Asemota said on Tuesday, via Twitter, that Tinubu’s statement was false, as the state governor was only brought in at the latter stage following Econet Zimbabwe’s failure to pay for its 40% share in Econet Wireless Mobile (EWM).

He explained that his uncle had pitched a telecoms company, “CyberTel” to many state governors in Benin in 2000, but only Delta State showed interest. Following the meeting, CyberTel merged into a consortium called “First Independent Networks Limited (FINL)”.

He explained further, that FINL went on to establish license entity, Econet Wireless Nigeria (EWN), under which is the operating entity, EWM, which Tinubu had claimed to have brought into Nigeria. He explained that the former governor came into the picture through Wale Tinubu, the founder of Oando, which became one of the investors in Econet Wireless.

It was gathered that due to Econet Zimbabwe’s failure to provide its share capital, the investors in Econet Wireless had solely taken on a burden of $285 million license fee, and in order to ease the financial burden, a decision was made to go back to state governments to buy off the secondary shares that the investors had taken on – that was how Wale introduced Tinubu to the Econet Wireless deal.

“My uncle held a party for Tony Anenih Jr after his wedding in 2000 in Benin City. Many of the new state governors were in town and came for the party. He got five of them into his bedroom and pitched a company called “CyberTel” which was supposed to bid for a GSM license.

“Only Delta State was very keen on it. The others told us that they would get back. Cybertel meged into the consortium called First Independent Networks Limited which was started by Bolaji Balogun and his team at City Securities Limited. It was a harrowing period.

“I remember traveling to Delta and Akwa Ibom to try to ensure the commitment of the states. FINL was supposed to hold 60% of the license holding company and 40% went to the foreign partner. We later selected a small company from Zimbabwe called Econet because we felt it was easier.

“Econet was supposed to bring 40% of the license money and the technical know-how. We had the equity agreement as shareholder and technical services agreement as operator of the license. That 40% never came. It was excuse after excuse. We finally had to go back to the states.

“The initial structure we had proposed was for the license entity Econet Wireless Nigeria (EWN) owned by FINL and the technical partner to own 60% of the operating entity Econet Wireless Mobile (EWM) and the remaining 40% coming into that entity from states like Delta and AKSG.

“When the 40% from the operator wasn’t coming and other shareholders were leveraged to the hilt, state governments were allowed in to buy secondaries from existing shareholders who had covered the initial $285m license fee they didn’t bargain for. Shareholders approached states.

“OANDO was a shareholder too. I had convinced them to buy into EWN/FINL in spite of Jite’s reservations. He was asking me why India had not seen growth because of GSM? Wale was convinced that it was the right thing. Osaze Osifo from HSBC Capital also had convinced him that it was.

“Osaze and Wale were old classmates. Osaze was running the entire financing of the deal and was a true genius. He was the one who arranged the primaries and secondaries in a manner I am still learning from till today. Wale got Lagos State to buy their secondaries and come in.

“That was the extent of the Lagos State involvement in the deal. His relative was the state governor and it made it easier for OANDO to convince them. Tinubu didn’t even commit to Cybertel initially. Delta State and Oceanic saved ECONET. David Edevbie saved us all.

“David was also the one who suggested still giving the operator 5% even though they didn’t bring any money and almost got us wrecked. That proved to be the biggest mistake we made.” Asemota wrote.

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Elon Musk Says Apple Threatening To Remove Twitter From Playstore

Owner  and chief executive officer of Twitter, Elon Musk has accused Apple of threatening to remove the microblogging app from its Store.

Musk disclosed this via a tweet on Monday evening.

His allegation comes amid social media discussions on the possibility of Apple and Google kicking off Twitter from their app stores over content moderation issues.

“Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why,” the tweet reads.

Musk also replied “yes” to a user question on whether Apple was threatening Twitter’s presence in the App Store or making moderation demands.

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Chinese Tech Giant, Huawei, Joins Global Digital Coalition

Chinese tech giant Huawei has joined the Partner2Connect (P2C) digital coalition of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), company chairman, Liang Hua, said on Wednesday.

At the 2022 Sustainability Forum, Hua stated that Huawei is committed to connecting 120 million people in distant locations to the digital world by 2025.

The seminar looked at how advancements in information and communications technology might unlock economic and social value in the digital economy.

The event explored how innovation in information and communications technology could unleash business and social value in the era of the digital economy.

“It is clear connectivity alone is not enough. It must be affordable.

“The content must be relevant and in the local language, and users must have the skills to make best use of it,” said ITU Deputy Secretary-General, Malcolm Johnson, who expressed appreciation for Huawei’s support of the P2C digital coalition.

Cao Ming, president of Huawei Wireless Solution, stated that the company has been constantly upgrading the RuralStar and RuralLink products in order to provide quality coverage to remote locations.

More than 60 million individuals in distant locations in over 70 countries have been connected by RuralStar series systems.

However, Huawei said it would also work with government departments and universities in Cambodia, the first P2C partner country of the ITU, to provide 10,000 training opportunities for professionals in the next five years.

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Ericsson To Invest In 6G Network Research In Britain

Ericsson (ERICb.ST), a network equipment maker said that it will invest millions of pounds in 6G mobile research in the United Kingdom, collaborating with universities on hardware security, AI and cognitive networks, and quantum computing.

The Swedish company, which supplies 5G equipment to all four British mobile networks, said the 10-year effort would help to push development of next-generation 6G networks, which are scheduled to bec commercially operational around 2030.

According to Katherine Ainley, CEO of Ericsson UK and Ireland, British universities are conducting world-class research in some of the technologies that will power next-generation networks.

“We will establish a team of 20 experienced researchers here in the UK and we will also look to sponsor students as well,” she said. “Our initial focus will be 6G networking and hardware security.”

The new group will complement Ericsson’s 17 existing research sites in 12 countries, she said.

She mentioned Surrey, Bristol, and Manchester as potential partner universities, adding that it normally takes 8-10 years from involvement with researchers to the development of commercial technologies.

The British government, which has been scrambling to secure financing for scientific research following Brexit, called Ericsson’s investment a “major vote of confidence” in the country’s telecoms sector, adding that it will shortly publish a policy on 6G technology.

(Reuters)

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