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Telecoms: Broadband services to contribute N29.6bn to GDP

Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola JohnsonMinister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson
| credits: File

The telecommunications sector is expected to contribute about $190m (N29.6bn) to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product through broadband services by 2015.

The Director, Regulatory Affairs, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Osondu Nwokoro, said telecoms companies had provided nothing less than three million jobs and invested well over $16bn in the country since the liberalisation of the sector in 1999.

He said the telecoms sector remained a key driving force for the economy, adding that broadband services would boost the country’s GDP portfolio by $190m in the next three years.

Nwokoro said this in a paper he presented at the fourth West African Information and Communications Technology Congress in Lagos on Tuesday.

He argued that multiple taxation posed a great challenge to telecoms operators, insisting that the government was the loser at the end of the day as most of the taxes ended up in private pockets.

Besides, he explained that multiple taxation, alongside other hindrances such as vandalism, could discourage operators and make them withhold investment meant for the Nigerian market.

Nwokoro stressed that the telecoms operators might be forced to slow down investment in the country if there were constant threats to infrastructure in the face of multiple taxation and generally unfriendly business environment.

This, he said, was done by Econet in Zimbabwe when the telecoms company was frustrated by the Robert Mugabe government.

He, therefore, warned that care must be taken by relevant government agencies so as not to push the telecoms operators out of the Nigerian market.

Nwokoro, who asked the government to protect telecoms infrastructure, said, “The Federal Government has a key role to play where it comes to telecoms infrastructure. These should be seen as critical equipment just like the oil pipelines, as well as PHCN and NITEL facilities.

“Once it is seen as such, no ministry, department or agency will shut down base stations at will, which in most cases; have adverse effects on the quality of service.”

The Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah, in a keynote address, said the commission had concluded plans to engage reputable international consultants to drive the strategy and design the processes for achieving broadband goals.

He added that the regulatory environment in the country had remained stable and attractive to the global investment community, hence the need to attract more broadband investors.

The NCC helmsman further said that Code Division Multiple Access operators such as Starcomms, Multilinks, Visafone, and ZOOMmobile, might soon be relocated to a new frequency spectrum band.

This, Juwah said, would assist in freeing up already scare resources for more telecoms operators without requisite spectrum allocation to deploy innovative and reasonably priced broadband services to the generality of the Nigerian population.

He said, “It is a well know fact the spectrum band between 790 – 862MHz is been occupied mostly by the CDMA players. Normally, the CDMA frequencies are not efficiently planned as is the case with Long Term Evolution frequencies.

“We have asked the CDMA players, who have tiny frequencies, which cannot do much on LTE, to upgrade. We have said if they are prepared to upgrade, the commission will re-farm these frequencies and give them a higher slot in terms of capacity to provide value services, but they must do LTE. A lot of them are already considering it. Very soon, CDMAs will have difficulty finding appropriate handsets because technology is changing. As they begin to realise this, CDMAs will begin to plan for LTE.”

The CDMA operators have been battling for survival in the face of multiple challenges such as subscriber preference for GSM technology, corporate governance issues, low capitalisation and poor promotion of CDMA technology, among others.

Meanwhile, the Editor-in-Chief, IT & Telecom Digest, organisers of WAFICT, Mr. Mkpe Abang, has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency for broadband deployment.

Abang argued that the country had conquered voice telephony and there was the urgent need to accelerate broadband deployment for the next phase of the country’s telecoms revolution.

Source: The Punch Newspapers

 

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