MVNO pioneer is new CEO of Nigeria’s Ntel

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Ntel appoints former Virgin Mobile, EE and Lycamobile executive Ernest Akinlola as CEO

Nigerian operator Ntel has appointed former EE and Lycamobile executive Ernest Akinlola as its CEO.

Akinlola takes over from Kamar Abass, who resigned in July, apparently because of ill health.

Ntel launched its 4G services in Nigeria in 2016, starting in Lagos and the capital, Abuja. It grew out of the fixed-line operations of the bankrupt state operator Nitel, which had a mobile arm, MTel.

Akinlola spent 10 years of his career in the UK after qualifying as an accountant. He worked at the then Virgin Mobile – now Virgin Media – negotiating the pioneering mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal with mobile operator One2One, which was bought by Deutsche Telekom and renamed T-Mobile.

He was head of MVNO at T-Mobile UK and its successor, EE, for five years until the end of 2006, when he became chief operating officer of Lycamobile.

Akinlola moved to Nigeria in 2009 to become marketing and strategy director of Etisalat’s operation in the country. He’s also worked for BlackBerry as director of government relations in Nigeria.

Ntel has not announced Akinlola’s appointment on its website – the most recent report on the media section there dates from June 2017 – but the appointment was widely covered yesterday in the Nigerian business press.

Akinlola says on his own LinkedIn profile that “Ntel is Nigeria’s most revolutionary and integrated telecommunications company having acquired the country's national fixed and mobile assets from Nitel”.

It offers, he says, “capacity and dark-fibre on our network of 1,100km metro-fibre ducts across six major cities and 4,000km of inter-city fibre rights-of-way” and “LTE Advanced mobile services including VoLTE, high-speed internet access, messaging and video services”.

He says he is responsible to the board for strategy, leadership, commercial and network KPIs and the effective management of stakeholders.

Ntel says on its own website that the company “can be traced to the acquisition of core telecom assets previously owned by Nigeria’s national fixed and mobile operators – NiTel/Mtel – by NatCom Development & Investment (NatCom) in a liquidation process supervised and approved by Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises and a court-appointed liquidator.”

Core assets were transferred to NatCom, which trades as Ntel, in May 2015.