Govt Should Push For Use Of Digital Solutions–Disu
The Executive Vice Chairman, EVC Globacom Limited, Mrs. Bella Disu, was among top participants at Africa CEO Forum 2019 held recently in Kigali, Rwanda. In this interview with major global media platforms including Consumer News and Business Channel, CNBC Africa, she spoke on Globacom’s plans to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria through mobile money and its proposed launching of Glo Cloud among other issues. It was monitored by THOMAS IMONIKHE. Excerpts:
What are your company’s plans and strategies to help propel Africa’s development?
Globacom is a platform and network that allows people, key players in the private and public sectors of the economy to discuss what are the issues? How can we drive the continent forward? Globacom is a company founded in Nigeria, is present in Ghana and our submarine cable has landing points across 16 countries and Africa. So, we thought this is a good time to see how we can collaborate and network with others and even show our capabilities to other business prospects across the continent.
In what other ways is Globacom trying to help Africa develop?
As a telecommunication company, we are trying to champion the emergence of the African Digital Economy. As we all know the world is experiencing rapid digital innovation and because we are living in an international world we must expect international change. Globacom has a bouquet of services that it will be launching before the end of June this year which will address some of these things that can propel Africa forward. So we are talking about digital innovation in terms of artificial intelligence, we are talking about a lot of things …, how to improve and drive financial inclusion in the society. And these are things that we can collaborate with other providers from other countries that can help propel the continent forward.
What are some of the challenges that you and other companies who want to invest into creating a larger digital market on the continent that you are facing?
A key one and I will explain why in a second, is that the government is a key player in providing sustainable development for the private sector to flourish and I say this because government and the regulatory authorities control how licenses are allocated, spectrum allocation, and the government needs to eliminate any bureaucratic obstacles that would come the way of the telecommunications network that would affect their ability to roll out their services. Now we also need to look at the fact that there are still unconnected areas including the rural parts of Africa and the country. So we in the telecommunications sector are faced with that challenge but we can overcome this by collaborating and an easy way of doing this is co-location of sites. We could co-locate our sites so that we have a wider reach within a short period of time. I think that also, the government should be that driver and push for the use of digital solutions. The very easy way of doing this is what Globacom would be launching in the next few months which is Glo Cloud. And that basically offers you cloud storage to document digital solutions, offers you the ability to have your meetings by audio and video conferencing. What does that mean to government? We all know the delays in going to the ministries and getting files out. For example if they have a file, stored in a cloud of storage, it would improves administrative efficiency and also reduces cost.
This sounds like one of the innovations being proposed because when the conference was opening the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame mentioned innovation being part of developing the continent. Do you have any other innovation that is coming that is doing the same thing?
Indeed now Nigeria is only just about to launch Mobile Money, we only just got the license to launch Mobile Money and this is a huge and significant thing because East Africans have lived with that for years. But let’s talk about Nigeria which has a population of 190million people; registered bank accounts about 30million that clearly shows that Nigerian banking industry is grossly under serviced. With telecommunications operators providing technology, we have the ability to drive the financial inclusion through electronic transactions. So Mobile Money offers to users the ability to conduct regular banking transactions, sending and receiving money and making payments through their phones.
You are in Nigeria now and also present in Ghana, where are you looking to move into next if anywhere?
Well I wouldn’t say I have a particular location at this moment but as I mentioned earlier we have our Glo One marine cable that has landing stations in Accra, in Senegal, in Cote de Ivoire and now more than ever we have seen that there is the need to charge office services in those countries and this is something that would be happening in the near future.
What other ways do you want to empower African businesses?
Let’s go back to talking about technology. Now the World Bank has found that a 10 percent increase in internet access definitely could lead to 1.8 percent increase in the Gross Domestic Product, GDP of developing countries. But you now know if you do, that I shop on Instagram, I buy clothes, and with the use of mobile phones you are really empowering someone with the ability to be an entrepreneur. So I think that making that push to have a more digital economy let us also look at ways we can increase the availability of smart phones. Africa has a population of 1 billion people, 500million have access to mobile phones, 226 million people have access to smart phones so we should also look at how we can increase affordability and accessibility that would be an engine for economic growth.
How will some of these initiatives you are integrating in the continent directly impact your company?
Nothing exists without the impact being felt by another so I would say that whatever is happening or going on in the economy impacts our company. If you look at electricity for instance, electricity is a huge driver that makes us struggle with other telecommunications company and we have to look at hybrid solutions, raise power at our sites. So we have logistics issues, generators and batteries so everything is interrelated and inter dependent in business.
Mrs. Bella Disu.