|By Onome Okwah:It is a widely known fact that a gold fish has no hiding place but Eugene Ikemefuna Juwah had managed to maintain a low profile despite his towering achievements in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria. But not anymore.On Thursday, the Senate confirmed his nomination as Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigeria Telecommunications Commission (NCC) to replace Mr. Ernest Ndukwe who served two terms on that position. A week before, President Goodluck Jonathan had sent his name to the upper chambers for confirmation.A telecoms revolutionist per excellence, Juwah has over 30 years experience in Information Communication Technology (ICT), with more than 20 of these years at the directorial level. He is knowledgeable in digital exchanges, base station construction, data communication and subscriber access networks and operations. He has equally played leading roles in the set up of ETACS, GSM and CDMA Mobile Networks inNigeria respectively.
Fresh out of university, he started his career as a computer systems programmer with Shell BP Petroleum Development Company from 1976 – 1978. As a young graduate working in a multi-national company, he developed and maintained computer applications programs in theCommercial Information Systems Section of the Information and Computer Systems Department (ICS). He worked with the team that repositioned business activities such as General Ledger, Accounts Payable/Receivable, Materials Resource Planning and Payroll as a practical demonstration of his hands- on experience
It was from Shell BP that he moved to Leventis Technical Ltd, a computer systems/telecoms subsidiary of the famous Leventis Group, a Nigerian conglomerate. He held various positions during his stint with the company. He was a System Analyst from 1982 to 1984, Sales Manager from 1984 to 1986 and Marketing Manager from 1986 to 1988. It was in 1988 that he was elevated to the position of Divisional General Manager (Computer systems). He held this position until 1993 when he was poached by one of the pioneer cellular telecoms company in Nigeria –MTS.
In recognition of his expertise, Juwah was appointed to serve as Director, Cellular Operations, for Mobile Telecommunications ServicesLtd(MTS). He was one of very few people that participated in the erection and testing of the first privately owned mobile telecommunications network in Africa through MTS. He was personally responsible for the quality of service that MTS delivered through his direct supervision of several departments like the Technical, Dealer Sales and Support, Customer Service, Switch and Billing Operations and Engineeringoperations.
The top flying professional delivered his duties so efficiently yet effortlessly at MTS between 1993 and 1996 that his technical know-how was noticed by CIL (now Globacom). He was drafted into the new company in 1997 in preparation for the roll-out of the new era in the history of Nigerian telecommunications. It would be recalled that CIL was one of the very few companies that won provisional bid to operate the global system of mobile telecommunications (GSM) in Nigeria during the regime of late General Sani Abacha before the license was voided by the democratic regime of Olusegun Obasanjo. While at CIL between 1997 and 1999, he was Director, Special Duties whose duties include the supervision of CIL’s 30,000 capacity GSM Network infrastructure the company had before its metamorphosis into Globacom.
During his period with the company, he coordinated the technical, business and commercial aspects of negotiations leading to the signing of agreement for purchase and start up of a 30,000 GSM 900 Mobile Cellular Network with Alcatel of France. He also led negotiation teams to NCC for license award and revalidations as well as frequency allocation and regulatory compliances. The versatile people manager also supervised detailed radio network study and microwave transmission network survey for the successful take-off of the project. Not one to ignore the minutest detail, Juwah coordinated site acquisitions and the construction of MSC and base stations for the initial 30,000 GSM Network capacity.
On the commercial end for CIL, he supervised the start up data requirements for Interconnection and MSC software customization. These include access networks and routing details, Customer Care and Billing System as well as Data preparation. He also designed the detailed Business Plan of the company as the primary financial model which today guides its operations. In a clear-cut demonstration of his people-skill, he was instrumental to the recruitment of the company’s initial high-level staff which included some expatriates.
Following the re-alignments in the evolving mobile telecoms sector in 1999, Juwah was again poached by MTS as Executive Director (Network and Operations), a position he held until sometime in 2005. From 1997 to 1999 that he was away from MTS, the company which started-out as a very promising telecoms company suffered a period of dormancy. It was therefore a major task for him to click the re-start button of MTS by playing a significant role in the restarting of MTS operations. He also coordinated liaison with NCC for license renewal, frequency permits, equipment type approval and interconnection regulatory compliances. All of these were made possible because of his vast experience in the sector as well as his well oiled network across board.
On his return to MTS, Eugene also coordinated operational activities for the rollout of the CDMA Fixed Wireless Service, which include MSC and cell site design, construction and commissioning, other operator interconnection design, negotiation, testing and commissioning, integrating a new prepaid calling system and a new Packet Data Service Network for data and internet services. He also led technical negotiation teams in the projected new areas of business activities of the company. Some of these new areas include Long DistanceCarrierand International Data Access Businesses sectors.
On a professional note as a consultant, Juwah has served in so many executive capacities as consultant. He was Chief Executive Officer of Transaction Technologies Ltd. (TTL) from 1996 to 1997. The company specialized in the provision of network solutions to telecommunication networks. He was also lead consultant to Communications Investments Ltd where he provided advice and guidance in negotiations withMotorola of USA for the purchase of a 10,000 capacity GSM Network. He also coordinated the development of a full feature Telephone Banking System and the development of a Cloning Fraud Control System for Analogue Wireless Networks.
Still on consultancy, he was also Lead Consultant to Intercelluar, a fixed wireless network operator in Nigeria, on purchase, installation and operation of a customer care and billing system. During this period, he entered into representative agreement with Natural Microsystems of US and Eureka of France for the development of sophisticated prepaid billing platforms.
There is no gain saying the fact that the high flying Juwah is well read and never misses any opportunity to brush-up on new developments in his career. Below is a sneak-pick into his supplemental career enhancement strides. Prepaid Calling Solutions, Alcatel SEL , Stuttgart, Germany, 1998; Customer Care and Billing Systems, Alcatel SEL, Stuttgart, Germany, 1998; GSM Infrastructure Manufacture and Testing, Alcatel SEL, Gunsenhausen, Germany 1997 and Telecommunication Regulation and Operator Interconnection, IBTC, London, 1995. Others include Pricing, Billing and Fraud in Telecommunications, IBTC, London 1994; TACS Infrastructure and Operations, Cellnet, Slough, England1994; Computer Systems Management, Control Data, Minneapolis, USA 1991 and Advanced Computer Systems, Control Data, Minneapolis, 1990.
It is this broad array of academic and professional qualifications as well as a wide range of experience spanning over three decades that Dr. Juwah will be bringing to bear on the NCC task. Indeed, it can safely be said that the telecoms industry in Nigeria is set for an upward swing.
Dr Eugene Juwah is married and blessed with two children who are still teenagers. “I spent a long time in school so I didn’t get married on time,” he explains in a manner of excusing his rather late fulfillment of man’s procreation mandate. He relaxes mostly at the Ikoyi Club where he plays tennis every other Saturday when the demands of business is lenient enough to allow him time.
In an Interview when asked about future plan he said “I am still keeping on although I have done a lot of things in my short span of life and one of the key things I want to do is to build this network and show Nigerians how to run a network. I have built networks for people but I have not really run it completely on my own. This is where I want to make the difference.”