‘How MainOne boosts W/Africa’s ICT devt’
BEFORE the landing in 2010 of MainOne undersea cable system, West Africa’s Internet service market was characterized by the slow and exasperating access to the online space. Though in Nigeria, the vibrant telecommunications market had recorded significant milestones in terms of nominal growth and voice service uptake, following liberalization in 2001, the Internet service industry at the time was witnessing a severe downturn in fortunes.
Many cyber-cafes and notable Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were closing up shop owing to the high cost of international bandwidth capacity, amplified by harsh operating environment and challenging business models. Fast-forward five years, MainOne has undoubtedly changed the face of Internet in West Africa and has been a catalyst for the growth of the Internet in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy by GDP.
The firm has invested over $300 million in broadband infrastructure, which is indicative of MainOne’s commitment towards improving accessibility of broadband services across the region. Huge portions of the said investment were ploughed into the deployment of the firm’s state-of-the art 7, 000 kilometer submarine cable from Europe to West Africa.
In the first year of operations, MainOne led by its Chief Executive Officer, Funke Opeke, cut down the price of wholesale international bandwidth capacity by 50 per cent. Many ISPs that were hitherto out of business got a new lease of life. Since the launch of MainOne’s services in the country, there has been a re-birth of ISPs across West Africa, many of which are customers of MainOne.
To date, there has been increase in the number of Internet Users in Nigeria since July 1 2010, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Data from Renesys, a global Internet intelligence company, showed that MainOne is the foremost Internet Protocol (IP) provider in the West African region, with majority of the traffic coming out of West Africa on its network.
As part of the firm’s transformation from a submarine cable operator to full-fledged ICT Company, MainOne built a multi-million dollar Next Generation IP Network for Internet services. Earlier in the year, the company launched a 600 Rack, Tier III Certified Data Center, which offers colocation services and provides the foundation for offering cloud-based services in the nearest future.
Impact on Internet ecosystem
With MainOne’s massive investments in broadband infrastructure expansion, industry observers are of the view that the company is well positioned as a digital game-changer in the anticipated economic boom from frontier markets such as Nigeria and Ghana. In spite of the two countries’ socio-economic challenges, they remain attractive to global investors because of their large and young demographic, huge mobile penetration and usage, and continued strong economic growth. MainOne actively supports the social entrepreneurship and start-up community by powering technology incubation hubs, including CCHub, 440ng, Hackerspace amongst others.
The company has also supported technology development initiatives such as the yearly software competition of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria and Demo Africa among others.
The company is also facilitating the growth of electronic commerce in Nigeria, which is quite evident with the huge successes recorded by the likes of Konga.com, PagaTech, IrokoTV, Wakanow and DealDey, to mention but a few. Today, leading online stores achieve about $2 million worth of transactions per week with market size valued at $550 million expected to grow to $13 billion in 2018.
MainOne runs a superior network with unmatched records of high availability and reliability when compared with any other network in West Africa. Even with Nigeria’s harsh operating environment occasioned by epileptic power supply and incessant vandalism of infrastructure, the company has recorded zero downtime on its submarine cable system in the past five years.
To provide its teeming customers especially the enterprise segment, best-in-class levels of service, the MainOne network is interconnected to the leading global Tier 1 operators responsible for 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic. This ensures quick response times for access to sites anywhere in the world.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos recently, Opeke, said, “Today, MainOne has the region’s highest active capacity on the firm’s submarine cable, and is the No.1 Internet transit provider in West Africa, interconnected with the London Internet Exchange (LINX), Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMIX), Nigerian Internet Exchange (IXPN) and the Ghanaian Internet Exchange (GIX).”