By Ikechukwu Amaechi
TO many Nigerians, 2019 was not a year they shall look back with undiluted pleasure just like the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, moaned on November 24, 1992. It was their own annus horribilis (horrible year), just like 1992 was for the Queen.
And despite protestations in certain quarters to the contrary, Nigerians knew because they were worse for it.
Worse, the World Bank in its latest Nigeria Economic Update predicted that poverty rate in the country could become worse, with up to 30 million more people falling into the extreme poverty trap in the next 10 years, unless Federal Government policy reforms engender robust productivity and inclusive growth.
Yet, in a sense, the same 2019 was, indeed, an annus mirabilis (wonderful year) for some entities in the country. A horribly wonderful year will be oxymoron, no doubt. But that is one of the contradictions that underpins our essence which confounds many. While Nigeria, our dear country, is grossly underperforming, the gigantic exploits of the private sector players on the global stage is overwhelming.
Globacom Limited, Nigerian multinational telecommunications company, is one of such. For the Mike Adenuga-led telecom giants, 2019 was, indeed, a glorious year. I have decided, as part of my New Year resolutions, not to open Nigeria’s book of lamentations so early in the day, but instead, look at the country’s shining stars in the global firmament – achievements many Nigerians are unfortunately not aware of.
To cap what was truly an outstanding year, Glo emerged the telecom global brand of the year at the 2019 World Branding Awards held at the Kensington Palace, London, late last year. This is not an easy feat considering that the annual World Branding Awards is the premier awards programme of the World Branding Forum, a registered global non-profit organisation set up to advance the standards, skills and education of the branding community for the good of the industry and consumers.
Besides, over 230,000 consumers participated in the poll conducted to decide winners and more than 4,500 brands from 57 countries were nominated for awards in multiple categories. Of these, only 351 brands from 49 countries were declared as winners – 81 brands from 16 countries were awarded in New York and 270 winners from 33 countries got their awards in London from a selection process based on a unique system of awarding points on three criteria – brand evaluation, 30 per cent; public online voting, 30 per cent and market research, 40 per cent.
To appreciate how huge this was, it is necessary to emphasise that global brands such as Cadbury, Carlsberg, Nokia, DHL, Adidas, Ferrari, Rolex, Sportify, Japan Airlines, Shell, Apple, Netflix, Aurora and other top brands from the United States of America, Spain, the United Kingdom, Kuwait, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Mexico, competed and won awards in different categories.
And guess what? Globacom came home with the ultimate crown. Mr. Peter Pek, Chief Executive Officer of the World Branding Forum, WBF, reiterated at the presentation ceremony that the award to Globacom came “following a rigorous assessment, evaluation and judging process … after rigorous global research, valuation and voting”. But this feat is hardly surprising. Glo hit the ground running when it launched in 2003 and has since then made its primary constituency, Nigeria, a lot better. Before its debut, Nigerians were told that per second billing was impossible. But for the telecom giant, that claim was a non sequitur and it proved it within months, thus forcing other telecom companies to dismount their high horses.
That was the beginning of the revolution Glo pioneered in the industry. Since then, it has been on a roller-coaster introducing several unique products and services that have transformed the lives of the over 50 million subscribers on its network. In 16 years, Glo through deft policy transparency and predictability – adopting global best practices, massive investments in infrastructure and heavy investment in corporate social responsibility, has continued to exhibit remarkable commitment to improving the lives of Nigerians by orchestrating innovations, quality service delivery and unequalled benefits to its subscribers.
The London award is proof that even the global community has taken notice, the major reason it has become a global brand. Glo not only offers subscribers best value for money by introducing innovative products and services aimed at improving their lives and empowering them, it intervenes directly in every segment of the society – entertainment, sports, arts and culture, education, media and poverty alleviation. Amazingly, some of these exploits go beyond the shores of Nigeria and other African countries are direct beneficiaries.
For instance, over the years, Globacom has supported the movie industry in Nigeria (Nollywood) and Ghana (Ghollywood) with many of the actors and actresses in both countries chosen as Glo Ambassadors, thus projecting the continent in a refreshing light through African movies. The company has always been associated with the development of the Nigerian music industry with the sponsorship of music shows such as Rock ‘n’ Rule, GloNaija Sings, Laffta Fest and the world’s number one music singing talent reality TV show, X Factor, which berthed in Africa for the first time in 2013.
One area where Globacom has connected with its subscribers and Nigerians generally is loyalty-reward promos such as Glo Overload, Glo Allawee, Text 4 Millions, Made for Life, Recharge to Stardom, 180 cars in 180 days, Glo CAF Award promo and the on-going Recharge and Win Big popularly known as My Own Don Beta, through which different types of empowerment prizes have been won across the country.
Over the years, it has engaged in the revitalisation and sponsorship of strategic national cultures through the Glo Heritage Series by partnering with several communities across the country on the sponsorship of major festivals and promotion of cultures and traditions such as Ojude Oba in Ijebu-Ode and Ofala in Onitsha.
Glo has equally initiated a number of private sector-led poverty eradication initiatives in several states across the country, including the empowerment of unemployed youths to establish commercial call centres, working in partnership with several states across the country and some public sector development agencies, including the National Poverty Eradication Programme, NAPEP, and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. In 2012, it donated N500 million to support post-flood disaster management effort by the Bayelsa State Government.
It is perhaps in the area of sports development that Glo has invested the most. For many years it sponsored the Nigerian and Ghanaian national teams and both countries premier leagues, signed a sponsorship agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation worth N2 billion in 2011, which conferred on it the prestigious status of official telecommunications partner of the Nigeria Football Federation and major sponsor of the Nigerian national teams, sponsored the Nigerian League from 2003 to 2010 seasons and returned three years later in 2013 when a new N1.9 billion agreement was signed lasting up to 2016, thus laying the foundation of the present-day Nigeria League.
On the continental level, Globacom sponsored the annual Glo-CAF Awards which celebrates the best of African football from 2005 to 2016, a period in which the profile of the awards rose from a continental event to a globally recognised event on the sporting world calendar. But Glo has not limited its interest to soccer alone. There are the sponsorship of the Glo Golf Tour West Africa with total prize money of over N62m, sponsorship of the Football Supporters’ Clubs of both Nigeria and Ghana, and investment in the Lagos Marathon, which has drawn over the years the core of elite marathoners from all over the World, especially the top-ranked runners from Ethiopia, Kenya and other east African countries.
The sponsorship of the broadcast rights of the English Premier League live matches on frontline pay TV, DSTV starting from the 2013/2014 season and still running in the 2019/ 2020 season is the axiomatic icing on the cake, which has helped tremendously in enriching the knowledge of football fans in the country.