Monday, May 25, 2009

Nigeria: Govt insists it will go after those holding NITEL hostage to ensure a successful privatisation

[daily independent] Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Christopher Anyanwu, has assured prospective investors in the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) Plc and its mobile arm, M-tel, that the Federal Government would not hesitate to go after vested interests that have held the national carrier hostage.

He disclosed this in London at an investors' forum on the privatization of the nation's telecommunications giant.

Anyanwu said some staff of NITEL were colluding with some telecommunications operators to sabotage NITEL, M-tel and SAT-3 operations, adding that government has taken note of their activities and will act.

Some prospective investors were worried that a large chunk of NITEL/M-TEL's capital expenditure (CAPEX) items in the last few years were going into the rehabilitation of vandalised copper network.

He however assured them that the BPE and the management of NITEL / M-tel were compiling dossiers on all the perpetrators with a view to handing them over to the appropriate authorities for necessary action.

The DG challenged the managers of NITEL and M-tel to, on their part, arrest the vandalization of their equipment and provide lasting solutions to the vandalisation of equipment/cable, especially at Lagos and Abuja, including the backbone routes.

Anyanwu told investors that NITEL continues to be the leading fixed lines operator of the country, adding that it has operations in each of the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory.

He pointed out that NITEL holds Nigeria 's connection to the SAT-3 cable, adding that the optical submarine cable, SAT-3, serves as an alternate route for international traffic. It has an advantage of large bandwidth with a system availability of 100 percent.

Anyanwu challenged the would-be investor to, in the short-term, ensure NITEL's position as the leading provider of fixed line services and restore at least 200,000 Direct Exchange subscriber lines back to the network.

He pointed out the consequences of TRANSCORP underinvestment in NITEL backbone maintenance which has led, among others, to significant loss of market share by M-TEL from 9.0% at the end of 2005 to 0.3% in the third quarter of 2008 with corresponding decline in revenue from N17.5 billion in 2004 to N0.7 billion in 2007.

He said the good news is that M-tel modern network remains in place with ability to support substantial traffic provided NITEL maintenance operations are funded.

An Investors' Forum on the privatisation of Nigerian Telecommunications Plc (NITEL) and its mobile arm, M-tel held on May 18 and 19, at BNP Paribas Offices in London.

The forum was organised by BNP Paribas, advisers to the transaction and was attended by investors from Russia , India , Western Europe, Far and Mid-east and Africa and representatives of the BPE, Transcorp, NITEL and M-TEL.

It would be recalled that advertisement for Expressions of Interest (EOI) in Nitel and M-tel was placed in local and international media. The deadline for the submission of EOIs is May 30, 2009.

Govt Vows to Track Down Enemies of Nitel

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