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Nigeria: Banks Set Up Telecom Networks

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cellphone.jpgThree banks have concluded deals that will see the re-emergence of networks where up to 1,500 middle and top level personnel will be employed within the first six months of operation.

It is estimated that the telecom networks to be established by the said banks would take off in between three and nine months from now.

One of the private telecom operators will be staging a comeback courtesy of Intercontinental Bank after being in limbo for some years. Another bank which preferred not to be named until all loose ends are tied up will be acquiring an existing network while a third bank is partnering with foreign principals to secure licence for a new network operator.

Business Day was informed by authoritative sources that Intercontinental Bank plc has started working to resuscitate Mobitel, a private telephony operator which came under receivership of the bank in September 2005, when the PTO reportedly failed to repay a N1.6 billion loan.

Intercontinental Bank has a market capitalisation of N665.84 billion as at last Friday, one of the highest among Nigerian banks. The bank is in technical partnership with the renown PNB Paribas, one of the 10 largest banks in the world, in the management of Nigeria’s foreign reserves.

The partnership is also to fuel the bank’s drive to be a strong player in global banking by co-operating in areas of trade finance, asset management and product innovation. Industry watchers say it is not impossible that the co-operation of Bank PNB Paribas would be sought by Intercontinental Bank for the funding of its new telecom project.

Business Day also gathered that though the bank’s telecom undertaking will fly on the licence of Mobitel, the network to be launched will go by a new name.

In a similar development, the second bank, is said to have bought Prest Cable and Satellite TV Systems (Prestel) the first privately owned telephony company originating from and operating in the Niger Delta region.

Informed sources say that the hush-hush deal was concluded recently after weeks of negotiations and with the bank paying about $300 million for Prestel.

Prestel presently deploys the end-to-end CDMA 2000 1xRTT technology which efficiently supports voice, video and data services. The company prides itself as covering 11 of the 36 states of the federation and has license for commercial VSAT installation to provide Broadband Internet services and data communication for government sectors, private organisations, banking and financial institutions.

Prestel strengthened its position in the Nigerian telecommunications market when it obtained the then newly available Unified Access licence in 2006, for N260 million.

A third Nigerian bank is said to be working with a big international telecom company and some local partners to establish a new telecom network in the country. Informed sources said the proposed firm plans to deploy the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA technology which can be deployed speedily. Business Day was informed that the Nigerian partners have considerable experience in the telecom sector.

Industry watchers say that this coming competition should bring about better quality telecom services and lower prices to the consumer. They add that it will highlight the dearth of technical manpower on the local scene, precipitate manpower poaching, higher remuneration and a greater drive by the corporate sector to attract home more skilled Diaspora Nigerians.

Venturing into wholesale ownership of telecoms companies is a new frontier for Nigerian banks which began when Zenith Bank plc launched Visafone recently.

Source: Business Day


  1. This is very important and urgent help me please, i like to know the official/office address of prestel telecom. i learnt they are located at marina street, lagos island,lagos state, nigeria. i was told that this company(prestel tel.) was bougth over by oceanic bank plc. of nigeria. my e-mail.

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