Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recession - Nigeria

Economic meltdown: NCC, operators meet to assess impact on telecoms

As the current economic meltdown continues to affect several sectors of the economy, eggheads in the communications sector will meet in Abuja today (Wednesday) at the behest of the Nigerian Communications Commission.

They are expected to appraise the impact of the crisis on telecommunications in Nigeria.

A statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by the Acting Head, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka, noted that telecom stakeholders, especially chief executive officers of firms, would deliberate on the impact and possible solutions to the global economic meltdown as it affected the Nigerian telecoms industry.

Apart from the impact of the meltdown on the telecoms industry, Muoka said the forum would also discuss the policy and regulatory environment germane to sustaining and consolidating the growth that had been witnessed in the industry over the past eight years.

He said, “The role, which telecoms can play in mitigating the negative impact of the global economic recession on the other sectors of the economy will be examined.

“Only invited CEOs and chief finance officers of operating companies, telecoms equipment vendors, investment companies, finance and economic experts, and government officials are expected to attend.”

He added that the recommendations of the forum would be forwarded to the Federal Government through the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Communications Commission has ruled out any possible increase in tariffs by telecoms operator in the nearest future.

It also said tariffs in Nigeria were not likely to drop, arguing that it was not the highest in the world.

The Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Mr. Ernest Ndukwe, while making presentation at a meeting between the Senate Committee on Communications and the telecom operators, said any increase in tariffs must be approved by the commission.

He also said that there had not been any application from telecom operators for an increase in call tariffs.

He said, “I think it is not going to be in the interest of the operators to increase their tariffs at this time because Nigerians are very discerning and they switch networks if they discover that any operator has increased its tariff.”

Ndukwe said NCC was against any group of telecom operators working against the interest of the subscribers.

He added that although NCC would want tariffs that would be more acceptable to both subscribers and operators alike, there was reason to believe that Nigerians were not paying the highest of tariffs in the global setting.

He said while he would support a better regime of tariffs, to force tariffs downward could congest the network and result in poor service delivery.

On co-location, he said NCC was monitoring negotiations and arrangements for the co-location of operators’ facilities.

The Senate Committee had also sought clarifications on the operators’ compliance with the directive on payment of compensations.

Chairman of the committee, Sylvester Anyanwu, said complaints from subscribers was a were a source of worry to members of the committee.

Chief Executive Officer of MTN, Ahmed Farouq, said MTN had paid N2.6 billion as compensation to subscribers.

According to him, the compensations were paid in line with the NCC guidelines which allows the subscribers to decide how they want the compensation to be paid.

He said MTN was working to expand its operations to give make communication easier for its numerous subscribers.

The Chief Technology Officer of Glo, Mr. Aremu Olajide, said Glo had also paid compensations running into billions of naira to subscribers.

He said his company had made closed alliances with other operators to make calls and tariffs affordable to subscribers.

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