Globacom: Two Decades of Redefining Telecoms, Raising Champions, Building Empires, Nurturing Nationhood

Globacom: Two Decades of Redefining Telecoms, Raising Champions, Building Empires, Nurturing Nationhood


Globacom understood quite early the dynamics of the African public and social spheres. Now in its 20th year, the telecommunication giant is defined by its matchless pace and incomparable milestones, writes Lanre Alfred

A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives out roses. And Globacom gives out bountiful bouquets. This is why it is called the fragrant lily of the valley. The telecom giant exudes that alluring scent that charms many women and men, individuals and groups, merchants and retailers, societies and callings, and races of all demographics. Thus, its comparison to the finest commercial tulip ever to sprout on this side of the planet. Whatever the sobriquet graciously attached to Globacom, Africa profits from its presence on the continent.

The telecommunications behemoth thrives on peculiar strengths. And as they say, the strength of an enterprise subsists in its capacity to traverse unimaginable tracts in pursuit of phenomenal and unlikely payoffs. Globacom does this with unrivalled finesse. Thus, its phenomenal growth over the years. For Globacom, forging its path through Africa’s challenging telecoms sector was certainly no walk in the park. But it achieved this with unrivalled finesse and commitment to ethical engagement with all stakeholders.

The telecoms giant sought to carve its niche in the public sphere by typically engaging consumers both in their active moments and during moments of downtime, when there is a lull in their affairs – that is, when they are moving between one point or activity and the next, and their attention is free for new inputs. Such engagement tactic has a long history that dates back to the 1920s, for example, when a famous franchise discovered the power of sequential signs to deliver rhyming messages in its bid to connect with active and prospective customers.

In the virtual realm, Globacom engaged in real-time connections and dynamic execution while serving up any one of hundreds or thousands of variations of impactful messaging tailored to the consumer’s profile and, increasingly, location—within milliseconds. As its targeting of its customers improved in the public sphere, it became less intrusive in their estimation, and Globacom, in time, became more of a source of welcome messages. More important, the telecom giant created content, projects and initiatives that targeted the growth of its business public and subscribers. It ensured, for instance, that all of its messaging and corporate social responsibility projects align with the consumers’ experience when they encounter the ad.

Globacom created and sustained initiatives that helped people reach personal objectives. It integrated its business interests with various solutions for customers in every stratum of society. Globacom’s performance in the social sphere helps people forge new connections and enrich existing ones. Its many clients enjoy the exclusive privileges to profit from social interactions while serving as partners of Globacom as a provider of business solutions.

Whereas the social sphere emphasises broad, diverse networks, the telecoms giant also ventured into a communal sphere that is the domain of more focused social engagement; here, it endeavoured to use or help create consumers’ identification with groups and business solutions. It also created and sustained a business ethic that leverages social affiliation as a tool that suits the character and values of those involved. Globacom addressed and nourished desires for identity, self-expression, and growth; it provided and still furnishes an enduring social signal or status marker; ultimately, it empowers individuals, societies and groups.

Therefore, it’s not hyperbolic to state that telecommunication in Africa flourishes in the enterprise and fibre optic fixtures of Globacom. Founded by Dr. Mike Adenuga, the company is widely celebrated for its capacity to surmount the odds, shadow fortune, and harness it without losing sight of what’s important: the people.

Millions of Nigerians and Africans chattering on the Glo network’s ubiquitous SIM cards are, however, inadvertently reaping the benefits of the behemoth’s institutional savvy, ingenuity, tenacity, and both espoused and established sensitivity to their needs. Ultimately, Globacom exploits the trenches of endeavour to create connections and sacred bonds among millions of customers within and outside the African continent. This is why it is widely adjudged Africa’s finest and most efficient network.

Circa 2003, two years after the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) was rolled out in Nigeria, Nigerians had to pay between N20,000 and N25,000 to buy a SIM card. But Globacom’s entry into the telecommunications sector in 2003 revolutionised the industry by flooding the market with the cheapest SIM cards, thus empowering the Nigerian masses with what used to be the exclusive preserve of the elites.

To further affirm its belief that profit must always be sought with human feeling, Glo shocked the entire telecoms sector and disrupted the prevalent culture of profiting, at the period, at the expense of the subscribers by crashing the price of SIM cards, bringing it down from N25,000 to N500, and then, N100. Eventually, the Mike Adenuga-owned telecom company moved on to distribute SIM cards free of charge to customers. In doing so, he made telephone services accessible to millions of Nigerians.

It would be recalled that before Globacom’s entry into the telecoms sector, the existing players claimed that per-second billing was impossible until after five years. However, to the delight of millions of Nigerians groaning under the excruciating cost of per-minute billing, Globacom made the “impossible” possible by pioneering the per-second billing innovation.

Glo was the first company to launch operations on per-second billing. It pioneered the billing system in Nigeria in 2003, even when older networks said it was impossible, thereby empowering millions of Nigerians. Courtesy of Glo, telephone users in Nigeria now pay just for actual time spent on the phone. The demystification of the SIM card acquisition and introduction of the per-second billing not only led to the exponential growth of Globacom’s customer base, but the innovative moves also ensured millions of Nigerians have access to telecommunication, a move which significantly boosted Nigeria’s economy.

In its bid to empower the greatest number of Nigerians, Globacom cancelled the N50 per minute charge for calls by crashing the tariff to as low as one kobo (N0.10) per second. The company is no doubt a trailblazer in launching a slew of futuristic products and services. For instance, it also recorded another milestone as the first network in Nigeria to launch the 2.5G GPRS technology, thus enabling multimedia convergence. This made it possible for subscribers to share pictures, audio and video for the first time in Nigeria.

Globacom facilitated international SMS connectivity to over 804 networks in 174 countries, BlackBerry solutions, international prepaid roaming, voice SMS, personal ringback tunes, and Magicplus––a comprehensive bouquet of SIM-based information services. The network also pioneered Blackberry services, which supported push-button email, mobile telephone and other wireless information services. It was also the first to launch the 4G/LTE technology nationwide, which boosted ultra-fast and reliable data service on the network.

In line with its pan-African vision, Glo has also extended operations to the Benin Republic and Ghana, with a footprint in other countries across the world. While it established its footprint across the African telecommunication landscape, Globacom also sought to affirm its repute as an advocate of financial inclusion on the homefront. Following its remarkable foray into the financial services sector, the company has emerged as the third telecoms company to throw its hat in the Payment Service Bank ring with the launch of Globacom’s MoneyMaster PSB. This underlines its commitment to deepening financial inclusion in the country.

Prior to its financial inclusivity venture, Globacom had pioneered a lot of innovations in the Nigerian telecommunication sector, including Mobile Banking, first to launch Mobile internet service, pioneered Vehicle tracking; first to Launch Prepaid Roaming, and first to launch In-Flight Roaming.

The company stunned Africa as far back as 2010 when it launched the Glo 1 submarine cable, a 9,800km cable stretching from the UK across West Africa with landing points in Nigeria, London, and Lisbon and connecting different countries to the rest of the world. It was launched to provide tonnes of terabytes of data per second to West Africa and many European cities. Glo became the first African telecom company to solely build such an international submarine cable. The launch of the Glo 1 cable was no doubt a game changer.

In addition to boosting the provision of services to telecom end-users, the facility currently provides much-needed connectivity to vital sectors of the economy, such as oil and gas, manufacturing, banking, commerce, education, and health, among others. Glo was also the first to extend free access lines to government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and to address Africa’s bandwidth deficit to provide enough capacity for the region, thus consolidating its reputation as a game-changer.

In recent years, Globacom has played a major role in the country’s march to a digital future by introducing a range of customised and community-driven voice and data connectivity solutions that help to manage complex networking systems. Globacom also provides secured and virtualised IT solutions such as e-health, smart cognitive learning, smart energy, industrial IoT, and cloud applications.

These solutions are particularly useful for collaborations, device management, workgroup storage, and information security, among others. Its fixed connectivity and voice products, such as Boost and Next Generation Bandwidth-on-Demand connectivity, SIP-based voice trunk, and telephony, further enhance the company’s capacity to deliver advanced connectivity and fixed voice solutions to medium and large enterprises, large wholesale carriers, and ISPs in Nigeria and Africa.

Glo is also a committed supporter of poverty reduction initiatives of the government. This has been exemplified through partnerships with various state governments, NDDC and NAPEP to provide call centre packages for unemployed youths. In 20 years, besides its enviable ventures in the telecoms sector, Glo has equally made significant forays into the sports and entertainment industries, thus emerging as the biggest promoter of entertainment and African football. Besides its direct financial commitments, including massive sponsorships of sports and entertainment events, Globacom currently retains the largest number of key players in the entertainment industry as brand ambassadors while upholding that by actively engaging these key entertainment drivers. They, in turn, can help to grow the sector and the economy. Many established and unheralded entertainers have been blessed immeasurably by this love and patronage.

Glo was the first telecom company to use Nollywood stars as brand ambassadors, thus re-inventing and rehabilitating veteran theatre and silver-screen stars. The company has asserted its purpose as a strong supporter of Nigerian music, comedy and acting. Over a decade ago, Glo took over the full sponsorship of the CAF African Footballer of the Year awards. Around the same time, the telecoms giant signed a sponsorship agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation, thus becoming the official telecommunications partner and major sponsor of Nigerian national teams. It also sponsors the Supporters’ Club in any part of the world where any of Nigeria’s national teams compete. For many years, it sponsored the Premier League, the Super Eagles and the NFF, other national teams, the Supporters Club, Glo CAF Awards and Glo Soccer Academy, among others.

The telecoms giant’s support for arts and culture cannot be underestimated. Glo has made monumental contributions to arts and literature; its support of the Wole Soyinka Prize was globally applauded, while its ‘Evening With WS’ events remain the gold standard for literature sponsorship. With a well-defined brand strategy of supporting cultural festivals and initiatives, Glo has also emerged as the biggest corporate supporter of Nigerian arts and culture with its sponsorship of the Ojude Oba, Lisabi, Ofala festivals, among others.

And thanks to Glo, the Alliance Française, committed to promoting French culture and teaching French as a second language around the world, now has a more befitting building in a choice area of Lagos thanks to the Globacom boss, Adenuga. Since it was declared open to the public in April 2018, the centre, aptly named the Mike Adenuga Centre, has been attracting commendations from far and near from artists, art aficionados and eminent Nigerians. Like a colossus with empowerment encoded in its corporate DNA, Globacom continues to initiate and implement people-oriented programmes and promotions that positively impact Nigerians.

Since it began operations in 2003, Globacom has made home-grown stars from the entertainment industry the faces (ambassadors) of its brand while making them worth their popularity in affluence and influence. At a time when entertainers were being paid peanuts for their artistry, Globacom upped the ante, dishing out millions of naira to their ambassadors and helping them to live the life they only see in the movies or on MTV.

It has also provided massive platforms for Nigerian nay African entertainers to practice their trade through direct sponsorship of concerts such as Glo Campus Storm, Glo Rock ‘n’ Rule’, Glo Slide ‘n’ Bounce, Glo Laffta Fest, Glo Mega Music Nationwide Tour, Dance with Peter, Glo X-Factor, Glo Naija Sings and the popular sit-com, Professor Johnbull. The Glo Battle of the Year Nigeria is the world’s biggest dance reality television show brought to Nigeria by Globacom.

Last year, the franchise attracted praise from far and wide for launching one of the grandest customer reward initiatives. As it celebrated its 19th anniversary, the company announced the commencement of its End of Year promo tagged Glo Festival of Joy. Through the promo, the telecoms powerhouse doled out 20 houses, 24 brand-new cars, 100 generators, 200 sewing machines, and 1,000 rechargeable fans as rewards to its loyal customers.

There is no gainsaying Globacom’s wherewithal as the biggest 4G network covering Nigeria’s major cities, unlike any other operator in the country. Glo is the only operator with cutting-edge infrastructure, including towers, generators, MSC and data centre buildings and does not owe anyone for its assets on which the network is running. Moreover, the network has a robust fibre network with huge nationwide reach, and it is the only private operator in Nigeria that fully owns submarine cable connecting Nigeria to Europe, the Americas and the rest of the world.

Globacom network is also the most experienced and competent workforce with years of experience managing the complexities of Rollout, Integration and Operation of a Multivendor network with its employees, unlike others who rely on managed services. Bolstered by its huge strength and capacity, Globacom has demonstrated that it is strategically positioned to dominate the telecoms environment regarding infrastructural investment, limitless capacity and reach to its customers in Africa and beyond.

These facts, among others, distinguish the Globacom network from its peers and cutthroat rivals. The network’s merit lies in its capacity to make forays where none of its peers and rivals would dare venture.

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