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El-Rufai opens up on Vodaphone game, says it’s a blessing in disguise

Former Director General of Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) and current Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has revealed what transpired in the cause of getting the first set of foreign investors in Nigeria’s telecoms sector.

Addressing Nigerians at the stand of the ongoing International telecoms Union (ITU) conference and exhibition in Bangkok, Thailand, the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said the experience government had with Vodaphone networks was horrible.

According to him, “in a very desperate move to get the telecoms industry out of NITEL cabal, administration of the then President Obasanjo went out his way to beg Vodaphone to roll out its network in Nigeria just for one dollar as licence fee, in addition to five years tax holiday”.

“But Vodaphone wrote back to say it was not interested.

“And we went and made a very nice PowerPoint presentation and offered to Vodaphone a nationwide GSM license for just one dollar, one dollar. We said just come pay one dollar, deploy your network and get five years tax holiday. Just to show that we can have another network in addition to NITEL and MTEL. And Vodaphone listened, they took our presentation and they said they would get back to us within two weeks.

El-Rufai disclosed further that “After the three weeks, Vodaphone got back to us through a very nice letter to the President saying they declined our invitation because from the data available to them the size of the Nigeria’s GSM market was 5m subscribers in three years.”

But reliving the current experience of Nigerian subscribers, he beat his chest and said what Vodaphone did to us then have driven to over 153m subscriber base and still rising.