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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

 

Senate Seeks FG, Boko Haram Dialogue

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President of the Senate, David Mark 

 

By Onwuka Nzeshi

 

The Senate Tuesday expressed concern at the recent spate of bomb attacks and the general level of insecurity across the country.

 

It urged the Federal Government to re-open dialogue with Boko Haram, which had claimed responsibility for the terror attacks.
President of the Senate, David Mark said the growing insecurity was unacceptable to the parliament and the generality of Nigerians. He said it was in the national interest for the country to experience peace and security particularly if the transformation agenda of government must  succeed.

In a brief remark on resumption from his medical vacation, Mark said since the members of the dreaded sect were Nigerians, government should explore the dialogue option to the resolution of the crisis. He said the activities of the group was not only a declaration of war on Nigerians but a threat to  the  unity and corporate existence of the country.

Mark admonished the group to eschew violence and seek better ways of expressing whatever grievances they may have with the government.

 

“In spite of all these bombings, we should not despair or be disillusioned. We shall overcome through our collective determination.

“This is the time for concerted action by all Nigerian; ethnic group, political affiliation, religious belief notwithstanding. We have a real problem on our hands and we must handle it with the seriousness it deserves and we should never politicise it,” he said.

“Divisive statements or finger pointing are not helpful. Attempts to apportion blame for failures at this time of the burgeoning terror threats will not lead to any practical and long lasting solution. The primary responsibility of tackling this challenge lies with the Government but that notwithstanding, we all have roles to play,” he said.

Mark also urged security agencies to intensify efforts geared towards improving on their operational capacities and prevent further bomb attacks.

 

He also challenged the standing committees of the Senate to strengthen their oversight responsibilities on government agencies to curb inefficiency and corruption in the system.

“In this regard, all Committees must submit their reports before our summer recess and as soon as we resume we shall take the Committee Reports in plenary. May I remind us that in the course of preparing our Committee Reports, we should look at the capital appropriation released for the first two quarters of the year and weigh it against the implementation of the capital projects,” he said.

 

Source: Thisday

#Nigeria FG to Compel Telecoms Firms to List on NSE

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 NSE Headquarters

By  Ndubuisi Francis    04 May 2012

 

The Federal Government yesterday said that it would compel telecommunications companies operating in the country to list their shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The biggest telecoms operators are MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Globacom.
Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, who spoke at a forum where ministers unveiled their scorecard as part of the 2012 democracy day celebration and first anniversary of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, stated that the era where multinational companies would come to Nigeria and generate huge profit without the citizenry benefiting would become a thing of the past with the compulsory listing.

 

The minister said a lot was being done to revive the capital market, adding: “We know that most of us who invested in the market have lost a lot. Not because these companies are not known yet. In fact, many of the intrinsic values of their shares are higher than their market values but what is happening is that there is a loss of confidence by Nigerians.”

He said 81 per cent of all the trading on the NSE involves foreign investors, stressing that Nigerians were displaying a lukewarm attitude occasioned by what transpired in the capital market.

 

“We are also trying to encourage new companies to list on the NSE; we want to make sure that MTN, Glo, Zain (Airtel) and all the companies that are doing very well and making billions of profit should also list on the capital market so that Nigerians can also share from their profits,” he said.

The minister also added that the power generation and distribution companies that would be privatised would be compelled to list their shares on the NSE.

 

“The power sector is also another big business in Nigeria and we are working to ensure that when we are regulating the sector, we want to do it in such a way that one or two people will not come into the sector to form a cartel.

“So to avoid this, we are also going to make sure that distribution companies that will operate in that sector list their shares so that after their privatisation, Nigerians will be given the opportunity to buy shares in these power generation and distribution companies,” he said.

 

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy,  Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the forum yesterday also disclosed that the launch of the Integrated Personnel and Pay System (IPPS) in 2010 had started yielding fruits, citing the N14 billion saved from the payment of pensions to ghost pensioners.

She added that in 2011, the Federal Government investments yielded N48.723 billion in dividends, operating surplus, rent, and privatisation proceeds even as the minister noted that appreciable progress had been made in re-directing credit to key sectors like agriculture, power and aviation at single digit interest rates.

Source : Thisday

#Nigeria Police arrest two Boko Haram suspects in Ebonyi

The Ebonyi State Police Command on Thursday confirmed the arrest of two persons suspected to be members of Boko Haram at the Ochoudo motor park in Abakaliki.

The Public Relations Officer of the command, Mr. John Eluu, told the News Agency of Nigeria that investigations into the matter were ongoing.

“We can confirm that two suspects have been arrested for being members of the Boko Harm sect, as the matter will be investigated thoroughly,” he said.

The men were arrested late on Wednesday at the park while boarding a vehicle to Ikwo Local Government Area of the state and were taken to the Central Police Station, Abakaliki, where they were interrogated.

The police said the suspects claimed to be Sokoto indigenes but the identity card found on one of them revealed he was from Zamfara.

Items found on the arrested men, according to NAN reports comprised two dane guns, machetes, an axe, gun powder, and identity cards, among others.

Alhaji Farouk Garba, a northerner residing in Abakaliki, said the activities of the dreaded sect in the northern part of the country had made people from the area objects of suspicion.

“Most residents of the town see northerners who dress in our traditional regalia as members of the sect and raise false alarm most times.

“I want the arrest of the suspects to be thoroughly investigated to uncover their real identity while appealing to the people of the state, especially Christians, to note that not all Hausas and Muslims are members of the sect.

“I also call on the Federal Government to immediately check the terrorist activities of the sect while the security agencies should be more proactive in protecting the lives and properties of the citizens,” he said

Source- The Punch

How to rebuild Nigeria, by Tinubu

Tinubu
Tinubu
By Yomi Odunuga,

Former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has listed five pillars on which a new Nigeria must be rebuilt.

The eminent politician called for concerted efforts to combat grinding poverty with which 70 per cent of Nigerians are grappling, security of life and property, electoral reforms, independence of the judiciary, and true federalism in all its ramifications.

He spoke in Abuja at A Morning of Reflections, an event for the 50th birthday of the publisher of Leadership Newspapers, Mr Sam Nda-Isiah. The event was chaired by former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma.

The former governor noted that though many people have blamed prolonged military rule for the nation’s woes,  the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has failed in the past 13 years at the centre to address the problems.

Asiwaju Tinubu said Nigerians should blame the ruling party for what he described as “not a mere failure but a very woeful one”.

He identified some of the ills plaguing the polity and clogging its progress.

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) National Leader listed these as violence in parts of the North, inter-religious strife, inter-ethnic clashes and rising demand by ethnic nationalities, almost across the board, demanding a re-worked federation of Nigeria.

According to him, the solution to these challenges lies in the convocation of a national conference.

Tinubu said: “We must talk, and the time is now! There is no crisis in talking with one another and discussing our problems as a people, towards finding workable solutions.”

He saw the urgency in addressing the nation’s woes collectively, saying: “The nation balances at the edge of the precipice while standing on its weaker foot. Nigerians, in my view, need a conversation or what has been canvassed as a national conference.

“What we see is a serious decline in almost all facets of our national life. We see more corruption, the type that will make past corrupt governments look saintly. We see spiralling unemployment figures, poor electricity supply, general insecurity. We see brazen electoral manipulation. We are confronted with a judiciary that can no longer dispense justice and that is fast losing the confidence and trust of the people, because of too much executive pressure, especially by the ruling party.”

The former governor noted that the most potent danger to the democratic polity was the shackling of the judiciary by rigging judicial procedures in electoral disputes and hounding respected jurists because they would not dance to partisan music.

He cited the case of Justice Isa Ayo Salami, the suspended President of the Court of Appeal.

“The most glaring example of this has been the government’s attempt to cut short the career of one of our illustrious jurists, Court of Appeal President Justice Isa Salami. What was his crime? Refusing to put his sense of justice on sale. For this, they tarnished his name and plotted to end his career. They rumoured that he was in the pockets of the ACN. This is a terrible lie against a good man.

“His verdicts were not for the ACN. They were for justice. However, those in power could not tolerate his impartiality. They sacrificed one of Nigeria’s finest jurists to send a blunt message to other jurists: go against our wishes and you shall lose those robes you hold so dear.”

The former governor added that the same partisan sleight-of-hand has doomed adjudication in election disputes, with the controversial 180-day limit that has denied many aggrieved politicians justice.

“By restricting to 180 days the period in which election cases and disputes must be concluded,” Tinubu warned, “the National Assembly has denied Nigerians electoral justice. It places a moratorium on justice and denies Nigerians one of the fundamental rights enjoyed under a democracy.”

He urged the Federal Government to implement the report of the Justice Muhammadu Uwais report on electoral reform, if the government is serious about ending persistent electoral heists.

Tinubu said: “Our nation and our people have never sunk so low in despair and despondency, as we are today. I will be blunt. I will be political. The PDP-led Federal Government appears to be incapable of confronting the problems of this country.

“A nation must be led either democratically or through dictatorship of any form or guile. We have experienced dictatorship. We have blamed leaders; we have blamed the system. We fought for democracy, which we won. They gave it to us. A particular party has been in power, but what have we got? It’s been lamentation, poverty, lack of motion, sorrow, excuses and lack of development. These are challenges for us to address.

“The elder statesmen are here. They could have sat back in their rocking chairs, drinking fura de nono, eating  their slices of bread, whether it’s made of cassava or whatever.

“But if they are still coming around to help us, let us face the challenges. It’s about action to correct this nation.”

Courtesy – The Nation

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