ICT Africa Headline News

'Why 70 Percent Slash in Telecoms Charges May Hurt Industry'

16 July, 2014

Source: The Guardian

Lagos and Uyo — Although Nigeria's telecommunications market may have witnessed about 70 per cent reduction in prices of telecoms services since the revolution started about 13 years ago, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that this portends danger for further growth of the industry.

Besides, the NCC said this is gradually reducing the country's telecoms sector competitiveness globally.

As such, to stem this trend and increase the sectors contribution to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah said the commission is intervening in two major ways.

Already, the Information and Communications Technology sector is said to be contributing about nine per cent to the country's GDP, with the telecommunications arm growing 30 per cent on a yearly basis.

Juwah, while fielding questions from journalists on the sideline of the recently launched code of corporate governance for the telecommunications sector in Lagos, last week, said one area the NCC was looking at to reposition the sector was through the launched corporate governance code and secondly by advocating a shift from voice telephony to broadband services.

The NCC EVC, who said the telecoms sector, is very critical to the country's economy, reiterated that by August, the commission shall licence infrastructure companies (Infracos), expected to raise the bar in the sector, by championing the spread of broadband services across the country.

"The sector is fast stabilizing compared to some years back, However, people don't know that the prices of telecoms service is reducing. The huge competitition in the sector has brought down prices drastically. There has been about 70 per cent reduction since the revolution started, which has had a disastrouse effect on the sector because the value of the industry has gone down.

"We are intervening in two different ways. Firstly by instituting the code of corporate goverance for the sector, and secondly we are advocating a shift from voice services to broadband. This has necessitated our intervention in developing licenses for Infrastrucrure Companies (InfraCos). This will be a major shift in the telecoms sector growth", Juwah stated.

According to him, these two areas to be explored by NCC will raise the value of the sector and increase its contribution to GDP, far more that its current position.

Meanwhile, in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state, at the weekend, the commission sealed off the premises of one TB Links telecommunications and Security Systems Company located at no 77 Aka Etinan road.

The Assistant Director, Enforcement, NCC, Salisu Abdu, who disclosed this to newsmen in Uyo, said the telecommunications company premises was sealed for breaching the law of the NCC by providing telecommunication services illegally without obtaining the necessary license from the commission.

His words "The NCC as you know is the independent regulator of telecommunication industry in Nigeria and one of its functions is issuance of telecommunication license and also monitoring and enforcing license terms and conditions.

"In one of our monitoring exercise in April, 2014, TB Links Telecommunications and security system limited and Mark 2 limited were detected to have been providing public mobile communication, vehicle tracking service illegally. One of the functions of NCC is monitoring the activity of operators in addition to surveillance exercise. So it was through surveillance exercise that we discovered that TB Links limited and Marc 2 are doing illegal operation of vehicle tracking.

"And we are here today in Uyo on enforcement exercise and at the end we visited TB links telecommunication and security system limited and we have traced them since morning, unfortunately we traced the office and there is nobody in the office and we expected that there is a leakage of our activity, so they refused to appear in the office.

"All the same we are able to seal the premises and we have already linked up with the Nigerian police for the purpose of investigation into the activity. So at the end of day, the police will take over the investigation of the company because basically it is a criminal offence by our

law if they are found guilty definitely they will be prosecuted and a fine will be enforced against the company".

The NCC chief disclosed that consequences of breaching the section 31 of the Nigerian Communication Act of 2003 by providing telecommunication services without a license sometimes attracts imprisonment, fine, or both as the case may be.

He stressed that every provider of telecommunication services in Nigeria need to obtain the requisite license about the service you are providing, adding that when the Commission discovers some of the operators during monitoring and surveillance activities it enlightens them on the need to comply with the established law in order to ensure compliance and regulate the their activities.

In Lagos, the EVC urged telecommunications operator on the need to invest more on their respective networks, stressing that this would go a long way to improve service quality.

Juwah, who used the occasion to inform the public that the fine, about N1.5 billion received from the operators for failing to meet up with QoS targets, has been taken to government coffers, said "the commission is not empowered to compensate any subscribers for poor services. Any subscribers that have issues with the operators should seek redress in a competent court of law."

Commenting on the refusal of telecoms firm to list their shares on Nigeria Stock Exchange, the NCC EVC said, "everybody is concerned about listing. There are still challenges now, but we hoped that in the near future it wull be looked into."

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