Glo @19: Celebrating an Indigenous African Brand

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Glo @19: Celebrating an Indigenous African Brand

August 01
10:39 2022

A lot has changed in the telecoms industry since Globacom birthed in 2003. As it counts down to its 19th anniversary in a few weeks, the company and its promoter, Dr Mike Adenuga,Jnr, GCON, CSG, CLH; can look back on their chequered and storied journey and give themselves a robust pat on the back.
Indeed, few magnates refine the merchant tropes of endeavour, like Adenuga. Through grit and hard work, he built his octopoidal conglomerate that employs thousands of Nigerians nay Africans in profitable, futuristic endeavours. Despite his achievements, Adenuga nurses no frantic lust for acclaim. He  affects tact and humility without pretence and ostentation – even as he musters the most heartfelt humanitarian gestures.

If Mike Adenuga’s story reads like a business legend, it’s probably because he has always been an enterprise stylist. Adept at combining grit with desire, his life espouses crucial entrepreneurial anecdotes by its metaphor-rich manifestations of his hard work . At work and at play, Adenuga shifts gear seamlessly between the whimsical and the earnest, demonstrating time and over again his ability to tame challenges and ride out storms – without falling prey to Scylla and Charybdis of cynicism and failure. All in pursuit of glory.


Adenuga displays a towering sagacity and wonderful gift of scrutiny similar to established genius. So adept is he at his vocation that he constantly discovers rare business opportunities often invisible to his peers. 

He symbolizes the African enterprising spirit of passion, unalloyed commitment, resilience and hard work. Thus he is today one of the most recognisable names on the African continent; sitting atop what is arguably one of the continent’s largest business empires, comprising oil and gas, telecoms, aviation, banking and real estate.


2003…When it all began 

Age 19 is not a landmark anniversary that calls for a rousing celebration. It is, however, for Globacom, Nigeria’s first indigenous telecommunications network, a resounding testament and poignant reminder of its sheer survival skills, tenacity, innovativeness, and resilience in the treacherous Nigerian economy. The company and its founder, Dr. Mike Adenuga, have survived several tempests and trials – a hostile economy, harsh government policies, and deliberate witch-hunt among others – to remain a formidable telecommunications provider. 

In the beginning, MTN and Econet Wireless (now known as Airtel) were owned by South African and Zimbabwean businessmen respectively, with vast capital bases. They had operated for two years before Globacom launched, meaning that they had a head start and presumably had already consolidated their hold on the Nigerian market. Then, it was prestigious and elitist to own a mobile phone because a SIM card cost as much as N40, 000 while calls were charged at N50 per minute irrespective of the number of seconds the call lasted. The incidence of call-drop was equally very high. 

Nigerians were at the mercy of the operators, alas. Not even the government could come to the rescue of its people. To compound the predicament of phone users, the promoters of MTN and Econet told Nigerians with stone-cold remorselessness that Per Second Billing, which was the norm in other countries of the world, was not feasible in Nigeria. They had a field day milking Nigerians. More so, there was no competition. What could have passed as the competition was the federal government-owned MTEL, which would soon gurgle and burp to its demise. 

Before the birth of Globacom, Adenuga’s Communications Investments Limited, CIL, was one of the companies that bade for the available four licenses in 2001. Yet, despite emerging as one of the preferred bidders, CIL was denied the licence on very spurious, infamous, and inexplicable grounds. When the opportunity to bid for the juicier Second National Operator license came, he did and won. Hence, Globacom was born.

Breaking New Grounds in Mobile Telephony

Dr. Adenuga had declared then that the vision of Globacom is to build the biggest and best network in Africa. The company launched with all guns blazing. Soon, Globacom crashed the price of SIM cards – selling at N500. Nigerians were stupefied; oblivious that there was more where that came from. Then, it introduced the Per Second Billing, which MTN and Econet had claimed was impossible for the Nigerian market. This move by Globacom would force the other telecom operators to also introduce the PSB. Consequently, this began the revolution that made mobile telephony not just an exclusive preserve of the privileged and well-heeled but, a necessity for Nigerians of all ages from the North to the South and everywhere in between. Globacom, a Proudly Nigerian company with the well-being of Nigerians as the core of its business principle, had come to stay.

From its early days, Globacom had always defied market odds to delight Nigerians. The company launched a slew of futuristic products and services such as being the first to offer 2.5G when others were on 2G, MMS, international SMS connectivity to over 804 networks in 174 countries, BlackBerry solutions, international prepaid roaming, voice SMS, personal ringback tunes, and Magicplus. 

In 2010, the company stupefied Africa when it launched the Glo 1 submarine cable, a 9,800km cable stretching from the UK across West Africa with landing points in Nigeria, London, and Lisbon, and connecting different countries to the rest of the world. It was launched to provide tons of terabytes of data per second to West Africa and many European cities. In addition to boosting the provision of services to telecom end-users, the facility is currently providing much-needed connectivity to vital sectors of the economy such as oil and gas, manufacturing, banking, commerce, education, and health among others. 

In recent years, Globacom has played a major role in the country’s march to a digital future by introducing a range of customised and community-driven voice and data connectivity solutions that help to manage complex networking systems. Globacom also provides secured as well as verticalised IT solutions such as E-Health, Smart Cognitive Learning, Smart Energy, Industrial IoT, and Cloud Applications. These solutions are particularly useful for collaborations, device management, workgroup storage, and information security among others. Its fixed connectivity and voice products such as Boost and Next Generation Bandwidth-on-Demand connectivity, SIP-based voice trunk, and telephony, further enhance the company’s capacity to deliver advanced connectivity and fixed voice solutions to medium and large enterprises, large wholesale carriers, and ISPs in Nigeria and Africa.

Globacom’s Investment in the Arts

The Alliance Française, committed to promoting French culture and teaching French as a second language around the world, now has a more befitting building in a choice area of Lagos thanks to the Globacom boss. Since it was declared open to the public in April 2018, the centre, aptly named the Mike Adenuga Centre, has been commanding commendations from far and near; from art aficionados and artists and preeminent Nigerians. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, said the centre will foster friendship between Nigeria and France, adding, “Lagos is one of the challenges of, not only Nigeria but Africa. This huge city is a tremendous challenge about how to make people live together in peace and better society; I want France to be part of this story. I do want my country and citizens to be part of this experience, which means sharing the same values, cultures, languages, literature, music, movies, projects, and common economic projects, among others.”

The company has supported and sponsored many comedy shows ranging from Glo Lafta Fest, regarded as the biggest music, dance, and comedy event in Nigeria, which brings top-rated African comedians like Bovi, Salvador of Uganda, Basket Mouth, Gordons, I Go Dye, 2Cantok, Seyi Law and others together in one place for an evening of unlimited fun and laughter; Glo Slide and Bounce, a travelling music and dance show; and the Bovi man on Fire Lagos and Warri editions, among others. 

Globacom currently retains the largest number of key players in the entertainment industry as brand ambassadors. Since it began operations in 2003, Globacom has made home-grown stars from the entertainment industry the faces (ambassadors) of its brand while making them worth their popularity in affluence and influence. At a time when entertainers were being paid peanuts for their artistry, Globacom upped the ante, dishing out millions of naira to their ambassadors, and helping them to live the life they only see in the movies or on MTV. 

It had also provided massive platforms for Nigerian nay African entertainers to practice their trade through direct sponsorship of concerts such as Glo Campus Storm, Glo Rock ‘n’ Rule’; Glo Slide ‘n’ Bounce; Glo Laffta Fest; Glo Mega Music Nationwide Tour, Dance with Peter, Glo X-Factor, Glo Naija Sings and the popular sit-com, Professor Johnbull featuring among others Kanayo O. Kanayo, Yomi Fash Lanso, Bidemi Kosoko, and Bishop Umeh.

As part of reaching out to the youth and motivating them to attain excellence in their chosen fields, Globacom, in 2010, announced that it was taking over Naija Sings, the music talent-search reality show being organised by MNET, which ‘aimed at discovering, developing and rewarding Nigeria’s brightest and boldest musical talents. In an exclusive three-year deal, the reality show was rechristened Glo Naija Sings and a mouth-watering prize regime including $100,000, a record deal, and a brand new Toyota RAV4 SUV was introduced. Globacom, in 2013, announced that it would sponsor the Nigerian version of the British music reality television show, X-Factor. The auditions were held in Nigeria and Ghana with the ultimate prize being a $150,000 cash reward as well as a deal to be managed and produced by Sony Music to record an album. 

Yes, you couldn’t have forgotten so soon, The Glo Battle of the Year Nigeria, the world’s biggest dance reality television show brought to Nigeria by Globacom. The final was held at Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos and had the Breakdance Crew battling to impress the judging panel. In the end, Lagos duo of 619 crew and Space Unlimited alongside Delta All Stars and Port Harcourt power crew, Eleven All Stars, emerged as semi-finalists.

The Bgirls finale could have been termed the ‘Lagos Vs Abuja’ finale, as one finalist from each region faced the other. In the end, it was Bgirl Cruxxy from Lagos that came out champion defeating Bgirl Vicky from Abuja to be crowned the number 1 Bgirl in Nigeria.
On the other, the Bboy category had Bboy Lil Dan, Bboy Off, Six God, Lil Vic, Lym, Midnight, Trixx, and Whirlz; 8 Bboys from 6 regions dance to the delight of both the judges and audience. Bboy Lil Dan from Lagos and Bboy Whirlz from Benin impressed the judges the most and made it to the finals. The Lagos-based dancer, Bboy Lil Dan however showed his skill and was crowned Champion in the Bboy Category.


Like Entertainment, Like Sports

Like entertainment, sports also rank very high on the Corporate Social Responsibility activities and investments of Globacom. Over a decade ago, it took over the full sponsorship of the CAF African Footballer of the Year awards. Around the same time, the telecoms giant signed a sponsorship agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation thus becoming the official telecommunications partner and major sponsor of Nigerian national teams. Alongside this, it sponsors the Supporters’ Club in any part of the world where any of Nigeria’s national teams is competing. 

As part of Glo’s contributions towards the development of the game, the Glo Soccer Academy, a West African Soccer TV Reality show was organised to discover and train football potential in West Africa. 16 outstanding players emerged and were rewarded with mouth-watering prizes including N5million for the Most Valuable Player and N1m each for the remaining 15 finalists. They also got scholarships worth N750, 000 each and were rewarded with a training trip to Manchester United Schools in Carrington, U.K. Globacom has also extended its sports development programme to golf, athletics, and even boxing with the signing of world heavyweight boxing champion, Anthony Joshua, as its new sports brand ambassador.

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