More Industry InsightsMeet the most powerful CEO’s in Nigeria telecoms sector

October 9, 2023by myles0

In the first quarter of 2023, Nigeria’s telecommunications sector, made a significant contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), accounting for 14.13%, equivalent to N2.50 trillion, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

This marked a 4.3% increase from the previous quarter and a 9.19% growth year-on-year. 

A substantial highlight was the $820.8 million generated for the federal government from 5G Spectrum license fees paid by MTN, MAFAB, and Airtel.

As of April 2023, Nigeria had 223.6 million phone subscribers, 157 million internet subscribers, and 92 million broadband subscriptions. 

Despite the goal of achieving 70% broadband penetration by 2025 through the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (NNBP), the rate remained static at 47.01%.  

Also included in the pipeline race for NNBP actualization are Internet Service Providers (ISPs), separate from the mobile network operators, who play a critical role in taking the high bandwidth capacity on the shores of the country to the last mile. 

The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) using Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) services are expected to play a vital role in reaching this target. 

Behind the advancement of the broadband penetration project stand influential CEOs who lead these telecom companies contributing to the economy and driving it to new heights.

Nairametrics spotlights these 14 powerful CEOs who are propelling the telecommunications industry towards its promised land. 

Karl Olutokun Toriola (MTN) 

Karl Toriola is the CEO of MTN Nigeria, a subsidiary of the South African-founded telecommunications giant, MTN Group Limited. Founded in 1994, MTN Group operates across 21 countries with GSM licenses and internet service provider businesses in 13 countries spanning three continents.  

With an extensive subscriber base of 85,005,917, MTN has had a significant global impact.

However, in the second quarter of 2023, MTN Nigeria’s pre-tax profits plummeted by 64% to N44.6 billion, contributing to a half-year profit of N200.3 billion, down from N268.6 billion in 2022.

Foreign exchange losses, totalling N131.4 billion, were a key factor in this financial setback. 

Segun Ogunsanya (Airtel) 

Segun Ogunsanya is the CEO of Airtel Africa Group, a leading telecom and mobile money services provider across 14 African nations, primarily in East, Central, and West Africa.

Airtel Africa is dedicated to enhancing the lives of Africans through digital and financial inclusion, aiming to address inequality and create opportunities. 

Segun boasts 25 years of management experience in banking, consumer goods, and telecoms, having held leadership roles at Coca-Cola in various countries. 

Airtel Networks Limited, headquartered in Lagos, ranks among the top three mobile service providers with 60,169,082 million subscribers, controlling a 27% market share as of August 2023.

In the fiscal year ending March 2023, Airtel Nigeria reported robust revenue growth, reaching N980 billion ($2.128 billion), a 20.3% increase from the previous year’s N864.9 billion ($1.878 billion). 

Bella Disu (Globacom) 

With over 14 years of diverse professional experience spanning various industries, Bella Disu stands as a notable Nigerian business executive, passionate art enthusiast, and dedicated philanthropist.

She currently holds the crucial role of Executive Vice-Chairman at Globacom, a prominent multinational telecommunications company with a significant presence in Nigeria and Ghana. 

In addition to her telecom leadership, Bella Disu also assumes the role of CEO at Cobblestone Properties and Estates Limited, a leading property development firm in Nigeria. Furthermore, she serves as a non-executive director on the board of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and holds a directorial position at Abumet Plc. 

Highlighting Globacom’s ongoing growth, the company welcomed an impressive 23,565 new subscriptions in July 2023, marking a substantial milestone with a total of 61.4 million subscriptions. 

Juergen Peschel (9 Mobile) 

Juergen is the CEO of 9 Mobile and a seasoned international executive with a record in the Digital, IT, and Telecommunications industries, showcasing expertise across various industry verticals and global markets. 

In January 2021, Juergen embarked on his journey with 9mobile, where he collaborates closely with the Executive Management Team to facilitate a seamless transition and enhance operational efficiency, aligning with the brand’s overarching vision. 

9mobile has a substantial subscriber base, with a total of 13,791,079 subscribers, underlining its significance in the telecom landscape. Juergen’s presence and expertise undoubtedly contribute to the company’s continued growth and success. 

Maneesh Kulshrestha (Spectranet) 

Maneesh Kulshrestha serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Spectranet, an esteemed internet service provider that secured a license from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2009 to advance internet services throughout Nigeria.  

Notably, Spectranet was at the forefront of introducing 4G LTE internet services to Nigeria, demonstrating its commitment to leading the internet services sector. 

The latest data from the NCC’s official website reveals that Spectranet boasts the largest number of connected and active customers among all the ISPs licensed by the Commission, with an impressive count of 103,815 active customers. 

 Additionally, the company has established a significant presence in 647 locations across Nigeria, solidifying its position as a key player in the country’s internet landscape. Under Maneesh Kulshrestha’s leadership, Spectranet continues to thrive and expand its reach 

Funke Opeke (Mainone) 

Funke Opeke, the founder and CEO of MainOne, previously known as Main One Cable Company, holds a prominent role in West Africa’s communications services and network solutions landscape. 

MainOne achieved a significant milestone by constructing West Africa’s first privately owned, open-access undersea high-capacity cable submarine, covering a distance of 7,000 kilometres.

This ambitious $240 million project, completed on time and within budget in 2010, marked a transformative moment for the region’s connectivity. 

In addition to this achievement, MainOne also established West Africa’s largest Tier III Data Center, MDX-i’s Lekki Data Center, with a substantial investment of $40 million and a capacity to house 600 racks.

As of Q2 2023, MainOne boasts an active user base of 1,826 and a presence in 51 locations, solidifying its status as a major player in the industry. 

Ejovi Aror (IPNX) 

Ejovi Aror holds the position of Managing Director at ipNX, a rapidly expanding ISP in Nigeria that caters to a diverse range of needs, including enterprises, small businesses, and residents, by delivering innovative, world-class services.  

As a pioneer and a foremost operator in the Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) sector in Nigeria, ipNX boasts an impressive record of 14,418 active customers as of Q2 2023. 

Furthermore, the company has established a presence in 55 locations, solidifying its reputation as a significant player in the telecommunications landscape.

Under Ejovi Aror’s leadership, ipNX continues to make substantial strides in providing top-notch connectivity solutions. 

Biodun Omoniyi (VDT Communications) 

Biodun Omoniyi serves as the CEO of VDT, a licensed Private Network service provider specializing in delivering Enterprise-Wide Area Network (WAN) and Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) connectivity.

VDT achieves this through an extensive infrastructure that encompasses both Fiber Optic and Wireless Communication networks. 

Catering primarily to corporate organizations, VDT provides broadband communication services with leased Fiber Optic trunks connecting all thirty-six (36) states in Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

This extensive network is supported by 59 Point-Of-Presence (POP) locations and a dedicated team of technical support experts. 

According to data from the NCC, as of Q2 2023, VDT has a total of 6,997 active users and maintains a presence in 58 locations, highlighting its significant role in the telecommunications landscape.

Under Biodun Omoniyi’s leadership, VDT continues to excel in delivering robust connectivity solutions to its clientele. 

Joe Onwubuya (Cyberspace) 

Joe Onwubuya is the Managing Director of Cyberspace Network Limited and holds non-executive Director positions in reputable firms like Zenith General Insurance Limited, Veritas Registrars Limited, Zenith Capital Limited, and Venus Medicare Limited.  

Cyberspace, established in 1995 by Jim Ovia as a wholly-owned Nigerian company, is known for offering top-notch ICT services and advanced networking solutions.  

With a state-of-the-art internet protocol (IP) infrastructure, the company has solidified its position as a complete network and software solution provider.

In 2014, Cyberspace introduced its 4G LTE network, ensuring speed, mobility, and security for customers. As of Q2 2023, it boasts 4,112 active users and a presence in 130 locations across Nigeria. 

Bruce Ayonote (Suburban) 

Bruce Ayonote is the CEO and co-founder of Suburban, with about 20 years of international telecommunications experience driving the company’s advanced technology strategy.

Since its inception in 1999, he has been instrumental in Suburban’s growth journey, playing a key role in its development and serving as a significant shareholder and board director.  

Committed to youth development in Nigeria, Bruce actively contributes to entrepreneurship and business forums.

Suburban Broadband Ltd, a part of Suburban Group, operates next-gen multimedia services with fibre optic networks in major Nigerian cities, boasting 4,419 connected and active customers across 4 points of presence. The company was founded in 2003. 

Kendall Ananyi (Tizeti)

Kendall Ananyi, the co-founder of Tizeti, holds a master’s in electrical & computer engineering from the University of Victoria, Canada. 

With 18+ years in telecommunications and IT, Tizeti provides high-speed broadband internet to homes, businesses, and events. The company idea was formed in 2012, but it was not until 2014 it came to life as  

Their strategic deployment of public Wi-Fi hotspots across Africa, coupled with solar panel cost-saving measures, allows for an affordable network of owned and operated towers, offering unlimited internet service.

As of Q2 2023, Tizeti ranks as Nigeria’s second-largest ISP with 20,228 active users and a presence in 136 locations, per the NCC database. 

Michael Ayoade (Dotmac) 

Michael Ayoade serves as the Managing Director of Dotmac Technologies Ltd, an Internet Service Provider headquartered in Abuja, specializing in delivering broadband internet through Fiber-to-Home-Technology. 

Founded in 2008, Dotmac holds the prestigious status of a Gold partner of NigComSat and operates with full licensing from the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).

It is also a proud member of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON). 

Dotmac currently serves a robust active subscriber base of 2,227 and has established its presence in 29 locations, firmly positioning itself as a key player in the industry under Michael Ayoade’s leadership. 

Glad Dibetso (Inq Digital)

With over 23 years of experience in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and financial sectors, encompassing both Pan-African and United Kingdom markets, Glad Dibetso has exhibited a versatile expertise that spans business and technical realms across various industries.  

Established in 2013 Inq Digital has a strong presence in over six African countries, including Nigeria, Botswana, Zambia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, and Malawi.

The company delivers cutting-edge solutions across five major service categories: Edge AI Solutions, SDN/NFV Solutions, Cloud-Based Solutions, Digital Solutions, and Intelligent Connectivity.

For more information, please visit ng. in. inc. 

As of Q2 2023, Inq Digital has an active subscriber base of 1,344 and has a presence in 100 locations. 

Karim G. Boulos (Cobranet) 

Karim G. Boulous is the co-owner and director of Cobranet. Launched in 2003, Cobranet Limited is rated as a leading Internet Service and data provider in Nigeria.

The company provides every segment of Nigerian society with a reliable and secure Internet Service and Data management solution for the digital universe. 

Cobranet currently offers corporate internet plans for organizations and medium-sized businesses over a state-of-the-art -radio network in Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt as well as residential plans.

In Q2 of 2023, the number of active users was 3,352, with a point of presence in 86 locations. 


Note: The individuals featured in this compilation have been carefully selected by a distinguished panel of editors, experts, and analysts at Nairametrics.

It is important to note that none of the individuals listed have solicited their inclusion. While this list aims to be comprehensive, it is by no means exhaustive; numerous other contributors have played significant roles in advancing the Telecommunications sector in Nigeria.

This compilation is exclusive to Nairametrics and may be updated periodically to reflect changes and advancements in the field. Feedback will be appreciated.   

Source: Nirametrics

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