Etisalat, the UAE company has left Nigeria. This is due to a due to a N541 billion debt owed to banks that it can not repay. In a statement released by Hatem Dowidar, chief executive of Etisalat International, Etisalat UAE; the company, with a 45 percent stake in the Nigerian business, said it was giving the Nigerian telecommunication company a few weeks to phase out the brand. Nigeria is not a market they might be coming back to. NCC already warned the creditors that the licence awarded to Etisalat Nigeria was not transferable, effectively stopping the banks from taking ownership of the company. Despite rumours that Glo might have been looking to buy out Etisalat and further get the 21 Million subscribers into its pocket, yesterday Etisalat Nigeria was changed into 9Mobile with Boye Olusanya, former deputy managing director of Celtel Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria) appointed as the chief executive officer of Etisalat Nigeria to oversee the transition.
It will not be business as usual with 9Mobile now as there is still a loan that needs to be taken care of. There is no idea what the plan is for the new 9Mobile and the economy says it’s out of the recession, but it really is not.
Here are some takeaways from this debacle
- Good things will always end. Etisalat arguably offered the best service for data and voice in Nigeria. Etisalat was the closest to premium service delivery in this Nigeria of Sin. This is the end of an era and while it can be anticipated that with the same hardware, service delivery should be at the same level, this is Nigeria where NTA despite having state of the art equipment is not even the best TV station in Nigeria.
- Who the f__k sanctioned a N541 billion loan in Nigeria? To get a loan in Nigeria involves jumping through a lot of hoops. Hoops a regular Nigerian desperately in need of a loan might be unable to jump through. Much like needing job experience to get an entry-level job.
- Is Nigeria broken? Our economic policy leads to our own Innoson Cars leaving Nigeria. It has always been bad, but not this bad. A lot of Multinational companies left Nigeria since the current administration took over power sacking their staff as the economy became really difficult to navigate. Despite seeming like a formidable opponent, APC has performed as woefully as PDP in the depth of their scum.
- Where does funding for a 9Mobile rebranding come from? Etisalat will now move to create new assets all around Nigeria. From the changeables like Network ID on mobile phones to new logos, websites and new assets for the current Etisalat experience centres. But where will all that money come from? The company is neck-deep in debt and that’s the reason for the rebrand.
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a freelance journalist and writer reporting stories about West Africa. He was previously the Culture Editor for YNaija. He tweets at @TheOluwatosin