Etisalat Nigeria yesterday officially confirmed that it has dropped the brand name to a new one – 9Mobile. This is also as it floats new website www.9mobile.com.ng.
The company tries to explain reasons behind adopting the new name as it goes philosophical in the new website “9 is significant with nature, the start of life, time of birth. From our entry into the market 9 years ago to our evolution 9 years after, we are still 0809ja.
We are here for you, rebranded for you because it is all about you”.
Chief Executive Officer of the company Mr Boye Olusanya in what appears his first official statement, says that the new name was derived from its 0809ja heritage.
He promised that the company would approach the transition from Etisalat to 9mobile systematically in the next six months, pleading for subscribers patience while the transition lasts.
He said:“Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited (EMTS), which previously traded as Etisalat Nigeria wishes to inform its over 20 million subscribers, government, regulatory agencies and all relevant stakeholder groups that the telecommunication company has changed its name to 9mobile as a further testament of our unwavering commitment to ensuring business continuity as Nigeria’s fourth largest telecom operator.
“Our new trading name, 9mobile represents our 0809ja heritage, our 9ja-centricity, and our evolution over 9 years of operations in Nigeria. Although our trading name has changed, we remain true to the same values on which our company was built”.
He added that “In order to ensure the change of name is delivered efficiently and responsibly, we will take a measured approach to the migration to the new brand over the next few months. Therefore as we go through this transition, our esteemed subscribers we ask for your patience and reaffirm our commitment to remain a listening brand. We will continue to innovate, support, and empower you to do more – whether as an individual or a business”.
The change of brand name followed a three-week ultimatum handed down by Etisalat of UAE that the name be dropped from use in Nigeria as it withdrew all engagements from the Nigerian company over an unresolved $1.2bn loan secured from a consortium of 13 banks.
Apparently not ready to risk the implications of using the brand name after the deadline EMTS decided to toe the Airtel line.
Recall that following completion of the first round of GSM licensing, Econet Wireless Nigeria (EWN) started business with the 0802 number plan on August 5, 2001. All seemed well, until 2004, when after a shareholder dispute, the company was purchased by Vodacom of South Africa. Suddenly Vodacom pulled out of the country in one of the shortest-lived corporate deals. The company quickly pulled itself together, and resumed trading as VMobile Nigeria, owned by Vee Networks Limited.
As the year 2006 dawned, subscribers who were just getting used to the Vmobile brand name could not know that soon another brand name change was imminent. In May of that year, Celtel International, owned and promoted by a Sudanese electronics engineer, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, acquired majority equity in Vee Networks.
Again, a little over two years after the Celtel brand had become entrenched, Mo Ibrahim’s Celtel International fell prey to another corporate investor, MTC Group of Kuwait, which later transformed into the Zain Group. Zain effected another re-branding.
Finally in March 2010, Bharti Airtel of India bought over Zain’s operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, which included Nigeria and the company was renamed Airtel Nigeria, which it has been to date.
So in effecting a brand name, there is already a template to copy. However, the case with Etisalat Nigeria’s is that the parent body wants the Nigerian arm to do away with the name in three weeks.
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