Worst Telecoms Services Imminent

By Ikenga Chronicles January 17, 2017

Worst Telecoms Services Imminent

The unavailability of Forex to telecoms operators in Nigeria is expected to lead to poor services as operators cannot access the dollar to import equipment needed to expand infrastructure for better services. Nigerians should therefore expect worse scenario in voice and data telecoms service delivery this year, New Telegraph reports.
Latest monthly industry data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), shows there are over 153.9 million active voice subscribers in the country and over 93 million Internet subscribers.
Operators are therefore facing setback in their infrastructure expansion plan until the Federal Government immediately enlists telecoms on the list of preferred sectors to have seamless access to dollar.
New Telegraph reports that the Naira devaluation, last year, has put paid to the infrastructure expansion roadmap of the networks to improve services on their networks.
The  development is also bound to impinge on the quality of service (QoS) provided by the operators in the area of data and voice services, said telecoms companies, under the aegis of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
ATCON President, Mr. Olusola Teniola, said government’s policy on Forex has adversely affected telecoms networks in expanding their networks last year.  He said not acceding to their request this year means there will continue to be a major setback
According to him, “in terms of how we performed last year in terms of telecoms infrastructure rollout, the impact of devaluation of Naira to the United States Dollar has been felt by most telecoms operators.”
“We should realise that 99 per cent of telecoms equipment are imported from [the]United States and Europe and you need Forex to do this. Not having access to Forex, therefore, means a debacle to infrastructure expansion.”
“Until government allows telecommunication equipment to be on the preferred list of items that can access cheaper Dollar to Naira, it is hard to see where the further growth will come from in 2017.”
The ATCON president noted, for instance, that despite having reached the $68 billion mark, there appeared to be a lull in telecoms investment and general infrastructure expansion among telecoms operators last year. He, however, said the reason for the lull was simple.
“The US Dollar to Naira uncertainty has led to anxiety within the investment community and this has also meant that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) needed to fund network expansion and capacity upgrades under our members capital expenditure (CAPEX) programmes had to be put on hold.”
“We need government to see that an enabling environment with clarity in policy formulation and execution that leads to transparency will encourage investors both domestic and foreign to bring funds to drive this expansion.”
“Government needs to remove the fear, uncertainty and doubt that is prevailing in the economy, in 2017, or there will be further contraction in the economy, irrespective of crude oil prices on the global market.”
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