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Operators Urge Govt to Save $75.6BN Telecoms Sector from Threats



Operators Urge Govt to Save $75.6BN Telecoms Sector from Threats

Telecoms operators in Nigeria have cried out over various bottlenecks confronting the $75.6 billion worth industry, tasking the federal government to come to their aid.

A joint statement by the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) on Thursday called on the government to take decisive action to change the situation of the sector.

In the statement jointly signed by Gbenga Adebayo, ALTON Chairman, and Tony Emoekpere, ATCON President, the operators underscored the urgent need for collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors to overcome obstacles hindering the sector’s growth and development.

They highlighted numerous challenges ranging from infrastructure deficits to exposure of telecoms assets to dangers to poorly rewarding tariff regime to regulatory independency, among others.

According to the statement, telecoms operators in the country still lack access to essential telecommunication services due to a myriad of challenges, including multiple taxation and regulations and prohibitive Right of Way (RoW) charges, inadequate electric power supply and vandalism of telecommunications infrastructure.

As such, they advocated legislation to designate telecommunications infrastructure in the country as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) to ensure protection of telecoms assets and infrastructure.

“Telecommunications infrastructure undisputedly plays a pivotal role in Nigeria’s national security and socioeconomic growth, especially as the country currently contends with multiple security challenges that require urgent and immediate actions in response to these threats.

“Attacks on cell towers, fibre optic cables, and other critical assets disrupt telecommunications services and result in significant financial losses for operators,” they said.

The associations urge the government to prioritize the security of telecommunications infrastructure and collaborate with law enforcement agencies to enhance protection measures and combat vandalism and sabotage effectively.

In addition, the telcos further reiterated that telecommunications infrastructure development requires substantial investments in network expansion, maintenance, and technology upgrades.

Despite the adverse economic headwinds, they said, the telecommunications industry remains the only industry yet to review its general service pricing framework upward in the last 11 years, primarily due to regulatory constraints.

They stressed that for a fully liberalized and deregulated sector, the current price control mechanism, which is not aligned with economic realities, threatens the industry’s sustainability and can erode investors’ confidence.

ATCON and ALTON thus called upon the government to facilitate a constructive dialogue with industry stakeholders to address pricing challenges and establish a framework that balances consumers’ affordability with operators’ financial viability.

Addressing regulatory independence as another concern for the sector, ALTON and ATCON advocated for the sustenance of a culture of independence in the regulatory landscape to safeguard against undue influence and unwholesome incursion into the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) domain, stressing that this will inspire trust in the telecommunications sector and encourage investment.

“Regulatory neutrality and independence are crucial to ensuring a thriving telecommunications sector. Statutory provisions lend credence to this notion, as a lack of an impartial regulator will lead to a failure to maintain public confidence in the objectivity and independence of its decisions,” the operators explained.

Despite the challenges highlighted by the operators, they reaffirmed their commitment to working collaboratively with the government to address the challenges facing the telecommunications industry in Nigeria.

“By fostering a conducive regulatory environment, prioritizing infrastructure development, enhancing security measures, and facilitating pricing adjustments, the government can unlock the full potential of Nigeria’s telecommunications sector, driving economic growth and societal development,” the associations said.

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