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Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd. (“Group”) Announces Significant Changes in its Leadership

Ms. Irene Charnley and Mr. Mohammad Wajih Sharbatly retire from the Group’s Board of Directors; The Group’s Board announces several new appointments to reinforce the Group in the coming era of Telecoms transformation.

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Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd. ("Group") Announces Significant Changes in its Leadership

Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd., (www.Smilecoms.com) a Pan-African telecommunications group with operations in Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, announced after its board meeting held on January 15th, 2021, significant changes in the leadership of the Group’s board and management.

The Group announced the retirement of Ms. Irene Charnley and Mr. Mohammed Wajih Sharbatly from the Group’s Board and all boards of the operating companies, effective January 1st 2021.

Ms. Irene Charnley, the Founder of Smile, has retired as Deputy Chairman from the Smile Telecoms Limited Board.

Mr. Mohammad Wajih Sharbatly is a Co- Founder of Smile and has acted as Co-Chairman of the Group through December 2020.

Commenting on the announcement, Mr. Ibrahim H. Sharbatly, Chairman of the Group said “Today we say farewell to our Founder and Deputy Chairman, Ms. Irene Charnley. We wish her all success in her new endeavors.”

“We also want to say farewell to our Co-Founder and Co-Chairman Mr. Mohammad Wajih H. Sharbatly.”

“May God bless them both.”

Smile Telecom Holdings, in its Board meeting on January 15th, 2021, also announced the following Nominations:

  • Mr. Osman Sultan has been appointed as Vice Chairman of the Group.  Mr. Sultan, the founding CEO of EITC (du) in the UAE, was at its helm from 2006 until the end of 2019. Before that, he was the founding CEO of Mobinil in Egypt (now Orange Egypt) from 1998 until the end of 2005. Mr. Sultan sits on several ICT Companies and Academic Boards. He has been actively involved with Smile as the Chairman of the Restructuring and Transformation Committee of the Group since July 2020.
  • Mr. Albert Momdjian has been appointed as Board Member of the Group and Chairman of the Group’s Audit Committee. Mr. Momdjian is a former corporate and investment banker with 27 years of corporate Investment banking and restructuring experience primarily in Media and Telecoms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, having been involved in over USD 100 bn worth of M&A, capital markets and restructuring transactions.
  • Mrs. Caroline Chang, recently appointed as a Board Member of the Group in November 2020, has been appointed as a member of the Group’s Audit Committee. Mrs. Chang is an experienced board member and former EMEA General Counsel of Farallon, the leading US hedge fund that has been active in Africa and Emerging Markets.
  • These nominations come in addition to the appointment of Mr. Raihan Shaikh-Khaleel as Board Member of the Group in September 2020. Mr Khaleel is a Partner at Swinton Capital and an experienced restructuring advisor across EMEA, sitting on various Boards of companies involved in restructurings. He has 20 years of EMEA and other cross border experience, spending the last 10 years restructuring companies for a leading US hedge fund.

“While we understand the desire of our Founders to retire after a challenging journey, we have been preparing over the past months for the future. We want to ensure that we bring the best competencies on board to enable the Group to face the various challenges and transformations that the Telecoms sector faces and take advantage of the opportunities ahead. Africa is the fastest-growing continent globally, and data is the new future in the world we live in,” concluded Mr. Ibrahim Sharbatly.

Commenting on the changes Ahmad Farroukh, Group CEO, added, “I am looking forward to working with the new Board Members and counting on their diverse experience to prepare for the company’s future in the challenging times the industry is going through.”

Finally, Smile announced that the Group Board approved the Head Office and Centre of Main Interest (COMI) of Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd to shift from Mauritius to England and Wales.

 

About Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd

Founded in 2007, with its head office in England, Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd (www.Smilecoms.com) is a Pan-African telecommunications group with operations in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Africa. The company has one of the largest sub-1 GHz 4G LTE commercial networks in Africa, operating in the “future proof’ low band, 800 MHz band, and mid-band.

Smile was the first to launch VoLTE on its network and continued its innovation, introducing SmileVoice, a free mobile app. SmileVoice enables customers with any Android or Apple iPhone device (including those which are not VoLTE-enabled) to make SuperClear voice calls over Smile’s 4G LTE network. Smile was also the first to introduce an Unlimited offering, which enables SuperFast data and SuperClear voice, all on one bundle.

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Features

INEC Votes Technology in a Season of Untruth, By Okoh Aihe

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INEC Votes Technology in a Season of Untruth, By Okoh Aihe

While our law makers were voting for a journey to the past penultimate week, by turning their back on modern technology in the conduct of elections, two significant things happened one after the other. Richard Branson went to the edge ofspace aboard Virgin Galatico’sSpaceShip Two on July 11, 2021.  Nine days later, on July 20, the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos was on his way up there, on a journey the world has tagged the race of the billionaires.

In between, the National Assembly took a vote on the Electoral Amendment Bill and voted against the transmission of election results by electronic means. It was a major disappointment for some non –government organisatriiosns (NGOs) and some Nigerians who had prayed for the National Assembly to disappoint them by doing something that is good, by voting yes, just this once, to redeem some of their very deplorable image. It has been fire literally and the nation is aghast with anger. In July 2021, the law makers said some parts of the country are so underdeveloped in terms of telecom infrastructure rollout that it was not possible to execute any electronic transmission of election results. And a particular one boasted irritably that he uses Thuraya phone in his village. And that Thuraya cannot transmit data?

READ ALSO: INEC Seeks Replacement of Manual With Electronic Voting

But let’s return to the billionaires. Those ambitious guys with lots of bucks to throw around –Jeff Bezos ($209.2bn) and Richard Branson ($4.7bn) who are spinning the next frontier of business into reality by organizing space tourism where a rider could pay as much as $250, 000 for a seat, if you decide to go with Virgin Galatico.

So, why am I linking the serious matter of space to the burlesque at the National Assembly? Just to say that the world is moving on. People are planning every day and whether we decide to remain on the same spot in this part of the world and continue to quarrel with providence for doing us wrong, life must go on and people must still go the edge of space to behold the beauty and fragility of the earth from up there. But that is life. You will have those who fly high and those who fly very low, struggling for the base concerns of life. Our politicians make the world hold us in ridicule.

Anyway, in trying to unshroud the entire process, the National Assembly invited the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), regulator of the telecommunications industry, and the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) who is in charge of election matters in the country. As it turned only the NCC went to the Assembly as INEC said it never really got any official invitation.

NCC has made its submission which outraged a number of people but INEC has responded indirectly through several media appearances of its officials to the effect that it had the capacity to go the way of technology in conducting elections,having received assurances from service providers. While NCC vacillated and tilted towards impossibility the data on ground and previous statements from the Commission put a lie to such submission. The Commission’s position has been fact-checked and incredulity is preponderant.

“We were bewildered by the NCC position because these were the same compatriots that had worked with us,” said Nick Dazang, INEC’s Director of Publicity and Voter Education, on AIT KAKAAKI programme.

Dazang observed there were inconsistencies in the amended Bill. How do you do electronic voting and remove electronic transmission of results? It is counterproductive.

He admitted that there were security challenges across the country but INEC has had to face some of these challenges in the past to organize elections that were acceptable. According to his story which is so well known to most people above the age of 10 in Nigeria, there has been insurgency in the North East since 2011. In all these years elections have been conducted in the States of the Region without fail.

“If we could develop a template to conduct elections there, why can’t we transmit results using technology?” he asked.

There continues to be disbelief within INEC just as it is in the larger Nigerian society. People are angry why our politicians in the National Assembly, a majority are smiling over a potentially dangerous move, trying to justify a position that is dismally selfish and only aimed at political preservation into the future.

In the sordid tragic-comic story, some stakeholders, especially the operators, have remained silent. So silent that even when they have been told that the network they have built in over two decades didn’t have the appetite for modern transmission, none of them has said anything.

When this writer reached out to some operators over the weekend, one official said: “I do not understand why NCC will give 2018 numbers. Why would they do that when the operators supply the regulator all the latest data? I don’t want to accept that NCC sounds political.”

READ ALSO: Senate Turns Down PDP Request Of E-Transmission Of Election Results

But do you have the capacity to do it, to carry the election results through your network backbone? The source was cautious explaining that there is no city in the country that has hundred percent coverage, just as there can hardly be any environment where there is no coverage at all. “Anywhere without a coverage may not have significant population otherwise an operator would put a base station there so as to provide services and make money.” Although everybody is expected to vote and the votes counted, the source maintained that such population may not be significant enough to affect the outcome of the elections.

Simple answer. Yes, we have the capacity and capability, but know that even in the cities there are blind spots where such electronic transmission may not be possible. The source also explained that operators were ready at any time to be informed of such environments so that they can escalate their service deployment.

The source expressed the fear that what is playing out at the National Assembly may have little to do with technology but more of the concealed agenda of the politicians who would never have moments to reflect on how low their image has plummeted.

The Nigerian politician is only concerned about tomorrow which may be too far for his aspirations. So in a fit to shore up the impossible he piles untruth on technology, so that he can continue to live in the shadow of sin. The politician wants to eat up the future so as to set the teeth of his children on edge. How very ironic. Unfortunately the younger generation are too smart for their old tricks, and will fight to redeem their future, using that same technology.

 

Okoh Aihe writes from Abuja.

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National News

GenU: Airtel Partners UNICEF To Empower Nigerian Youths

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GenU: Airtel Partners UNICEF To Empower Nigerian Youths

Telecommunication company, Airtel Nigeria, says it has partnered with UNICEF to empower Nigerian youths through the newly launched Generation Unlimited (GenU) initiative.

Airtel in a statement on Tuesday said that the multi-sector partnership was aimed at empowering 20 million young Nigerians by 2030 with education, skills acquisition, employment, and entrepreneurship while leveraging access to digital platforms.

GenU is aimed at urgently supporting expanded education, training, and employment opportunities for young people aged 10 years to 24 years on an unprecedented scale.

READ ALSO: GenU: FG, UNICEF To Inaugurate Scheme For Young Nigerians

The collaboration is a global multi-sector partnership that was initially launched in September 2018, in collaboration with over 200 partners.

Segun Ogunsanya, Airtel Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, said the initiative aligns with the telco’s philosophy of connecting, empowering, and helping young Nigerians to become more productive to solve some of the pressing problems affecting the country.

“At Airtel, we believe that leveraging on technology, digital platforms, mobile broadband, and innovation can make a huge difference in creating both access and opportunities for youth even among those in the remotest and hard-to-reach locations in the country,” he said.

Ogunsanya pledged that Airtel would support the GenU initiative by providing connectivity and access to the Internet for every school and learner by zero-rating data cost.

He said the telco would also offer internship opportunities to participants as well as provide awards to some of the beneficiaries at the end of the training.

“In the long term, Airtel will fully support GenU through a partnership to develop an investment case for school connectivity leveraging our technical competence.

“It is our belief that through this partnership, we will go a long way to improve the skillsets of millions of young Nigerians across the country, which is one of the cardinal objectives of the government,” Ogunsanya said.

Also, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President, commended Airtel, UNICEF, and other stakeholders for backing the GenU initiative with a clear deliverable of providing education, training, and entrepreneurship opportunities for 20 million Nigerians in 10 years.

The Chief Executive Officer, of GenU, Mr. Kevin Frey, also commended Airtel for its pledge of providing connectivity, access, internship opportunities, and awards for the beneficiaries, noting that the success of GenU in Nigeria was a success for Africa and the world.

Frey said that during the pilot phase of the program, Airtel would focus on providing zero-rated data to support 200 schools in Lagos and Kano States.

GenU has reached more than 100 million young people globally through innovations and programmes in more than 40 countries across six continents.

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Economy

PenCom Develops App To Automate Pre-Retirement Enrollment

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PenCom Develops App To Automate Pre-Retirement Enrollment

The National Pension Commission (PenCom) on Tuesday announced that it had developed an online application to automate pre-retirement verification and enrollment.

A statement signed by the commission’s Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Peter Aghahowa, in Lagos, said the application had the capability to register, verify and enroll prospective retirees of treasury-funded Federal Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).

Aghahowa said PenCom would test-run the online enrolment application between Aug. 2 to 20 with selected MDAs.

READ ALSO: FG Inaugurates 16 Board Members Of PENCOM

He stated that the MDAs would be selected across the six geopolitical zones in the country, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“Accordingly, the online enrolment application would be hosted on the PenCom website.

“As a prelude to the formal deployment of the online enrolment application, PenCom would commence a pilot run of the exercise from between Aug. 2 to 20.

“This will be done with selected MDAs in the six Geo-Political Zones and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in order to test-run the application with real-time data,” he said.

He said the application would go live after a test run on a date to be announced by the commission in due course.

The PenCom spokesperson explained that the affected retirees or prospective retirees were expected to undergo the data recapturing with their respective Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs), as a pre-requisite for the online enrolment.

Aghahowa said the data recapturing entailed updating personal details and providing National Identification Number (NIN).

“However, retirees or prospective retirees who have already undergone the data recapture exercise with their PFAs are not required to repeat the exercise,” he said. 

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