Bullish telecom sector could be cash cow to governments and agencies — Olude

Posted by News Express | 22 May 2019 | 847 times

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•ATCON Executive secretary Ajibola Olude

Executive Secretary of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Ajibola Olude, has joined voices with numerous other ICT stakeholders in Nigeria in asking governments at all levels to step up their sincerity in insuring the continuous growth of the sector through infrastructure development and security of the ones on ground. He said this is most imperative now that ICT has become the nation’s leading GDP provider hence the infrastructure therein has become indeed the ‘infrastructure of infrastructures’.

Speaking exclusively to ICT Monitor in his office, Olude decried a situation where telecom technology with its boundless benefits, capable of repositioning the nation’s economy, provide employment to all the young people in virtually all the sectors of the economy would be deployed as a political tool and more debasing, a mere cash cow to the governments, their numerous agencies and even the local touts (area boys).

He said ATCON and its members through InfraCos is poised to increase Broadband penetration to about 70% in the next National Broadband Plan regime, which we in ATCON are likely to spearhead as agreed to by stakeholders during the Association’s post 2013 – 2018 National Broadband Plan review that ATCON held earlier in the year.

He however noted that for that as with other infrastructure development programmes to come to be, government must play its part effectively and sincerely. This includes their encouraging foreign capital investment into the sector as provision of telecom facilities often run into billions of naira and many Nigerian banks can ill afford to bankroll such projects singly.

“Given the huge financial demands of infrastructure development in the sector, our members are going to adopt an Open Access fiber network through the InfraCos to increase coverage of the current fiber networks’ reach especially to the less profitable areas of the country. There is need therefore for collaborations within local groups and foreign investors to enable us build more towers and ensure increase in Base Stations with a predominance of 4G BTS(es) as this will ensure deeper Broadband Consumer Experience”.

He regretted that “government has only been paying lip service to their promise of classifying telecommunication facilities as Critical National Security. All over the country, you have our facilities being vandalised and worse of all is some states and local governments with their agents, seeing the sector as a cash cow, are prepared and indeed have been vandalising these facilities at will and nobody is being sanctioned. Lately the DG of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Shaibu Usman, threatened to pull down about 7,000 GSM masts across the country, not minding the mind blowing consequences of that statement alone and the real effect that would have on the nation’s economy.

“Such a statement from a man that should know what would happen to the aviation sector alone for instance not to mention other sectors of the economy should the masts be pulled down ought to have been very mindful of those words as he uttered them,” Olude.

The ATCON Executive Secretary pointed also at certain other factors that need be carefully handled in order to achieve the proposed broadband penetration target of 70%. “These, he said, “include issues of taxation in the sector”, adding: “There are numerous and incessant cases of multiple taxation of our members. They are continually bombarded with all manners of taxes from various agencies of government and governments, majority of which I believe are ghost to our regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission NCC. These not only discourages local operators as such eat deeply into their business returns, it equally discourages foreign investors, the investments we need so very much”.

Olude, a graduate of Economics joined the 25-year-old ATCON in 2005. His passion and enthusiasm for ICT industry has thrown him up as a strong advocacy driver that has actually set the industry on the right path of growth. Some of his milestone achievements for the association include the supervision and execution of an international workshop on IPv6 which he did in collaboration with African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC). 

Source: News Express

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