SHOW BIZ FLAIR
In 2003, when Globacom Limited – the first indigenous mobile phone company – debuted in Nigeria, many optimists and ICT enthusiasts saw the birth of a promising mobile operator that would create competition in the telecoms sector and give more Nigerians a much-needed opportunity to own mobile phones. Other than the trailblazer himself – Mike Adenuga, Jr. – no one envisioned the unprecedented positive impact the burgeoning telecom operator would have on the nation’s entertainment industry.
Almost two decades later, Nigeria’s telecom and entertainment industry is feeling much better due to Glo’s outstanding achievements in these two strategic economic sectors. When the service provider initially proclaimed its mission statement, “To be the largest and most successful provider of entertainment, information and telecommunications solutions in Nigeria and Africa,” some cynics saw this as one of the lofty propaganda of corporate organizations.
But after eighteen years of rousing journey nicknamed GSM Revolution; With Glo as the main catalyst and its impact on the entertainment industry, the grains of optimism had been strikingly distinguished from the chaff of pessimism. The vision of the quintessential entrepreneur—Mike Adenuga, Jr.—not only demystified cellphone ownership, but breathed life into the entertainment industry. It was a glorious sojourn that unleashed an avalanche of telecom/entertainment opportunities for Nigeria and its neighbors.
With Glo in the ring of competition and its aggressive market strategies, the country’s subscriber base grew from a meager 400,000 active lines in 2002 to a whopping 180 million in September 2021. Of that number, Glo has over 50 million subscribers – and is still growing rapidly. Aside from the SIM card price dropping from N30,000 to N200, Glo’s pioneering Per Second Billing System (PBS) transformed the entire industry and made subscribers “Glo with Pride” with cheaper lines, voice and data plans. Glo’s promotions are known to be top-notch, customer-focused and rewarding.
When Chief Mike Adenuga, Jr. came up with the idea of giving Nigerians – Africans in general – cheaper access to mobile telecommunications services using Globacom as a vehicle; He envisioned more than a cell phone unit. The accomplished investor envisioned a telecom company that would serve as a catalyst to fuel the country’s massive growth with the regional entertainment industry. His ultimate goal was to make Nigeria the melting pot of entertainment in Africa.
He has worked passionately and tirelessly to make this vision a reality for the past 18 years of operating Glo. No company in the country’s private sector has invested as consistently in Nigeria’s entertainment industry over the past two decades as Globacom Limited. Adenuga’s vision is reflected in Glo’s youth-focused ecosystem. There is no stratum of Nigeria’s entertainment industry where you will not find Glo’s signature: from music to drama to comedy, sports etc, the list goes on.
Glo is now thought of as a network of stars. No business organization has had such a constellation of entertainment heavyweights as brand ambassadors like Globacom. Over the years, the country’s best musicians, footballers, literary icons, actors, actresses and comedians have been either signed as brand ambassadors or featured in the company’s commercials.
Some celebrities who graced Glo’s Hall of Fame are: King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Osita Osadebe, Oliver d’ Coque, Prof. Wale Soyinka, Yusuf Maitama Sule, Nelly Uchendu, Onyeka Onwenu, D’Banj, MI Abaga, PSquare . Others are Rita Dominic, Ini Edo, Juliet Ibrahim, Matter Ankomah, Davido, Wizkid, Flavor, Gordons, Basketmouth, I go Dye, Teniola, Brother Shaggi, Mikel Obi, Victor Moses, Osaze Odemwingie, Joselyn Dumas, Michael Essien, Anthony Joshua , and so forth.
While the commercials starring these stars helped market the Glo brand and make it a household name, the partnership greatly benefited these celebrities as it served as strategic publicity for their individual brands and the financial gains that came with them. So far, no corporate organization has touched the lives of these celebrities like Glo. The advent of Glo has truly been a boon to celebrities in the industry and beyond. The most interesting factor is that despite the country’s agonizing economic realities, Glo is still investing in the industry.
One area where Glo has done impressively well is sponsoring talent scouting shows. Nigeria is a reservoir of talent when it comes to entertainment. Having talent potential and using it are two completely different things. Like treasures buried in the ground, it takes resources and skills to mine and hone talents. Chief Mike Adenuga, who has successfully distinguished himself in the world of crude oil exploration through ConOil Producing Limited, has a deep understanding of talent discovery and unearthing hidden gems, especially as it relates to our youth.
This explains Glo’s huge investment in talent hunting shows over the last eighteen years. Examples: Rock ‘n’ Rule, GloNaiga Sings, Laffta Fest and the world’s leading reality TV show featuring singing talent, X Factor, which was first born in Africa in 2013. Others are the Slide and Bounce concert, an entertainment tour that went through all geopolitical zones of the country, and the Glo Mega Music Show; another platform through which Globacom develops the music industry and entertains Nigerians.
Youth unemployment is one of the social ills plaguing the country. Nigeria is the most populous black nation on earth. There’s this school of thought that black people are naturally talented when it comes to entertainment, but because of years of alarmingly low investment in this area, our youth’s talents are declining with corresponding unemployment, poverty and general depression in the country.
Worryingly, Nigeria’s unemployment rate is estimated at 33.3 percent. Among these unemployment statistics are youth whose talents have been left idle by the unavailability of opportunities. Africa hasn’t really taken investments in music seriously compared to the entertainment industry. The American economy earns an average of $19 billion annually from revenues generated from the music industry alone. Its film industry – Hollywood – is valued at nearly $150 billion. The market size, measured by revenue, of the arts, entertainment and recreation industry in the USA is US$275 billion in 2021.
How can we solve the challenges of uncertainty and limited economic opportunity when many youth are still wallowing in the wilderness of ignorance and lack of talent development opportunities? Globacom is redefining the standard and bringing hope back to the forgotten youth demographic. The mobile operator recently opened floodgates of opportunity for youth in the music industry, particularly those with dancing talents.
Globacom will rediscover great talent by giving youth the opportunity to show their dance skills to the world through its sponsorship of the world’s largest dance reality TV show, Battle of the Year, played out like a seasoned explorer in Nigeria show . According to Globacom’s communications director, Andre Beyers, who recently spoke at the unveiling ceremony, was quoted as saying:
“In line with our commitment to nurturing the Nigerian entertainment industry and the development of young talent across the country, we are excited to unleash the unlimited potential of Nigerian dancers and provide them with the platform to showcase their skills on the world stage.” He added that N84 million in prize money awaits the winners of the Glo Battle of the Year, giving the winners an opportunity to represent Nigeria and showcase their talents at the global dance competition.
The Battle of the Year competition was launched 20 years ago in Hanover, Germany. It is an annual international competition widely regarded as the “World Cup of Breakdance”. Glo has shown keen interest in the growth of the country’s entertainment industry. As part of its 18th anniversary activities, it launched a new online streaming app called GloTV. It is an innovative TV streaming service for Android, IOS apps and web to watch live linear TV, video-on-demand and catch-up with premium content.
Despite its massive investments in the entertainment industry, Globacom’s perspicacious vision of “building Africa’s biggest and best telecoms network” is still alive. To continue to offer its subscribers value for money through improved Quality of Service (QoS) and to reach Nigerians in remote corners of the country, Glo recently entered into a strategic partnership with Eutelsat Communications.
The goal of this partnership is to provide high-speed satellite broadband and voice services to businesses and communities in unconnected and undeserved areas of the country. In summary, Globacom is not only building the continent’s largest telecom company, but is also driving the rapid growth of the country’s entertainment industry. I challenge other companies to emulate this paradigm.
Chidiebere Nwobodo writes from Abuja at [email protected]