Most young people using the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) in Nigeria today, may not have known that, Econet Wireless holds the record of being the first GSM operator to go live in Nigeria. This was way back in 2001 when they were only two operators, the other being MTN. Over the years, the company has undergone so many changes of name and management that we can hardly keep up it. Information from Econet Wireless international have it that, their refusal to sign off hefty kick back to certain powerful individuals was their undoing in Nigeria.
The latest operator to enter Nigeria communication landscape, Abu Dhabi-listed Etisalat, has been rumoured to be considering a sale of its stake in Etisalat Nigeria after the local unit defaulted on a $1.2 billion loan payment but wants the unit's debt restructured before it starts the sale process, according to two sources.
Etisalat is due to meet with local lenders in Nigeria on Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss the loan default, the source said, adding that the Abu Dhabi listed company was keen to resolve the loan issue and would look for a good price to sell its stake.
While the details of how this sale will affect millions of subscribers in Nigeria is not clear but what they may have to deal with is a change of name from Etisalat Wireless to a totally different name which is what the former Econet now Airtel has been known for over the years.
Ahmed Bin Ali, senior vice president at Etisalat, said Etisalat Group does not comment on rumours or market speculation. Etisalat Nigeria could not be reached for comment.
- Some report from Reuters and Techpoint