Every decade, there is a massive translation in the Nigerian economy. The decade of the 1990s gave us the new generation banks. They used technology to rewire the ordinance of banking systems – and they experienced glory. The leading banks of today like GTBank and Zenith Bank were born in that era.
In the decade of 2000s, the voice telephony era came with MTN, Glo, and Airtel. They brought a new ordinance in communication and they changed the economy.
In the decade of 2010s, it was a time for mobile internet. Yes, our phones became computing devices with access to the internet. New vistas were unlocked.
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But you know? We’re in the application utility era, the decade of 2020s, where software and service systems will unlock values out of those connected devices at scale. The transformation is huge, across industries and territories.
From logistics-tech to fintech, from agtech to edtech, and indeed all sectors, software systems will “eat” and “save” the world of commerce. And as that happens, telcos will SMILE to the bank. They will smile because their data is powering that future – and everyone is working for them. Whatever you do that needs data, you are expanding the world of telcos. Telcos are the kings in the market.
That is now evident in the Nigerian stock exchange: MTN Nigeria has a market cap that is bigger than all banks, all insurance firms, and all other financial institutions combined: “MTN was briefly the most capitalized stock two weeks ago when the share price was trading at N264 per share valuing it at N5.3 trillion… The entire Nigerian Financial Services sector which includes banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions is valued at a combined N4 trillion.” (Fintech companies like Flutterwave, Interswitch, OPay, etc are not included as they are not traded publicly in the Nigerian Stock Exchange.)
MTN Nigeria belongs to a category of companies termed SWOOTs by Nairametrics which means Stocks Worth Over One Trillion Naira. Other members of the group include Airtel Africa (N5.5 trillion) Dangote Cement (N5.1 trillion), BUA Cement (N2.5 trillion), Nestle (N1.1 trillion), and BUA Food (N1 trillion).
The challenge next decade (2030s) will be which entity becomes the operating system of this application utility era in Nigeria: satellite-based providers or GSM-based providers? But before that, the economy belongs to Airtel and MTN! That ordinance is consistent with how nations have evolved on the technology stacks except that Nigeria is evidently slow here.
From these companies, one can also pick the states of the economic developments: Nigeria’s is still emerging with cement and food catalytic while in the US, those have since passed their growth phases. While Nigeria bets big on the infrastructures of the digital economy with MTN and Airtel, the US is focusing on the utilities built on those infrastructures with the core infrastructure players largely not dominant.
Comment 1: Being a privileged elite sometimes means breathing rarefied air. The upper echelon sometimes is not aware of the plight of the ground floor and how difficult life is.
Meanwhile the energy and currency crisis in Nigeria has prevented 50% of the arable land to go uncultivated. The failure of governments in recent years have come to roost. While the world struggles with record inflation and a lack of food the elite are never cognizant of the hunger felt by the poor.
Wheat grown in Europe is staying in Europe. Africa will see little of that essential commodity. But that’s not necessarily the current problem as African nations don’t consume it in any great quantity anyway. A greater problem is one of cassava production, where because of the economic situation and energy instability, has been declining. Cassava flour is very energy intensive and becasue of the situation on the ground the negative impact on production has a double negative affect.
The poorest always feel greater pain during instabilities. The elite feel very little, often just an inconvenience. While MTN rise, with their technological advocates by their sides patting them on their backs, many use their last few Naira to pay their service fees instead of seeds or food
My Response: great observations. Unfortunately, you did/will not skip meals today because the guy in Ukraine, Somali, Mali, Afghanistan, etc has not eaten. In this world. we’re all guilty. In college, food was a luxury in the bukka. Then, I began work in the bank and my problem was to eat right. I came to America, I now spend money to avoid eating recklessly. MTN is not the problem; you are not the problem; Ndubuisi is not the problem. But the day you run and hold a political office, I will say you have a problem to deal with. Political leaders are supposed to structure economies for the RISE of All. Private entities are largely focused to become best in their missions. That is noble!
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