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ATCON Seeks Immediate Removal of IT/Telecoms Equipments from 41 Restricted Items

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(L-r): Ezekiel Egboye, coordinator, Equipment Dealers; Olusola Teniola, president and Anthony Nwosu, first vice president, ATCON, during the Association’s AGM meeting held in Lagos at the weekend.

The Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) over the weekend called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to review the foreign exchange restriction placed on 41 items imported into the country.

Mr. Olusola Teniola, president of ATCON, made the suggestion in an interview with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek during the Association’s annual general meeting held in Lagos.

He said that the review had become important, especially those items critical to the growth of the IT/telecoms sector of the economy.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek recalls that the CBN had in July, 2015, restricted about 41 items, including IT/Telecoms equipment, among others, from access to foreign exchange from its official window.

Teniola, stated that the apex bank should, however, revisit the list of 41 items with a view to exempting a few, especially the IT/Telecoms items, considered critical to the sector.

The ATCON President, who was assessing the apex bank’s management of the forex crisis, said that the restrictions on a number of items has impacted expansions and other projects in the industry, thereby leading to poor quality of service (QoS).

He also the members have been discriminated against with regards the apex bank’s recent initiative that guarantees Small and medium enterprises window to $20,000 per quarter. 

He said, “We realized that even though the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has made some albatross in a direction to ensure SMEs are able to access foreign exchange (Forex), we discovered that our members in that category are not able to benefit from that intervention which introduced $20,000 per quarter. We are really disappointed. This should not be discriminately against our members.

“The reason is that IT/telecoms equipments are still in the 41 items banned from accessing forex. So, we have a conflict actually because the initiative is supposed to help every SME, but our members can’t access their right to $20,000 per quarter. Honestly, it has direct impact on their ability to sustain operations and to acquire much needed ICT equipment to be effective in the market.

“Remember that in the market, the ICT sector, especially the telecoms segment, contributes 9% of our GDP. Also, Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) have dropped. So, the only other way government can have income flowing in is by our members’ ability to buy these equipments to improve their operations and ensure increased revenue with impact on the GDP”.

He said that the operators need this resolved immediately. “So, we would like the CBN Governor urgently grant us audience on this particular issue and the general issue of availability of forex to our members to acquire critical equipment to sustain and grow their operations,” Teniola said.

 

 

 

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world.

So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Telecom

NCC, CBN Query Barclays’ Transparency in Sale of 9mobile

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The handling of the sale process of 9mobile by Barclays Africa, the financial advisers, has come attack from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), according to the Cable.

 

Barclays Bank has been saddled with the responsibility of finding investors for 9mobile based on the decision of Nigerian lenders.

 

In a joint letter to GTBank, which is the facility agent for the 9mobile syndicated loan, Umar Danbatta, the executive vice-chairman of NCC, and Godwin Emefiele, the governor of CBN, expressed displeasure with the “unwillingness of Barclays Africa” to follow due process in the bid.

 

In the letter, dated November 4, 2017, the two regulators said they made it clear from the outset that the sale process must be “transparent and fair, with the financial and technical capabilities of the final bidders without question”.

 

They said they now have “serious concerns” since the appointment of Barclays Africa as financial advisers.

 

“They have repeatedly exhibited signs of opacity in the sale process for 9mobile. Given the overriding public interest in the company and the need for transparency, we advised that Barclays advertise the call for ‘expression of interest’. Barclays declined, insisting instead that the company being a private one, should not be taken through a public sale,” they wrote.

 

“This lack of a transparent process has proven to be selective and arbitrary, leading to allegations that the process is being teleguided to a rigged and predetermined outcome. The CBN and the NCC will not fold their arms and allow this to materialise.”

 

Danbatta and Emefiele said they had received reports and petitions from various stakeholders, including some bidders, which have further heightened their concerns — but their suggestions to the board of 9mobile and Barclays on how to restore credibility to the process have been ignored.

The CBN and NCC then directed that all steps and decisions taken by the financial advisers as well as other advisers from the end of “expression of interest” must be communicated to CBN and NCC, who will have to approve in writing.

They also directed that the final bid process must be “open and transparent” in line with international best practices.

 

Danbatta and Emefiele said the December 31, 2017 deadline for the handover of 9mobile to the preferred bidders “remains sacrosanct”.

 

On Monday THISDAY reported that 1o firms have moved to the financial stage of the bid process.

 

The companies listed are: Globacom Nigeria Limited, Bharti Airtel, Alheri Engineering Limited, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Helios Towers, Centricus Capital, Africell, Abraaj Capital, Teleology Holdings Limited, Ericsson, Africa Capital Alliance (ACA) and The Carlyle Group.

 

The company formerly knows as Etisalat Nigeria changed its brand name to 9Mobile in July after the Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator following a N541 billion debt.

 

The debt is owed to a consortium of 10 banks, with GTBank acting as the facility agent.

 

The sale of 9mobile, with 21 million subscribers, is expected to bring in the needed capital to restore it to good health.

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Airtel Emerges ‘Best Company in Stakeholder Engagement’ at SERAS 2017

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By peter oluka

Airtel Nigeria, has been awarded the Best Company in Stakeholder Engagement at the Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility Awards (SERAS) 2017 for its flagship Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative dubbed Airtel Touching Lives.

Airtel Touching Lives is an inspiring CSR initiative that offers practical relief, succour, hope, opportunities and credible platforms to liberate and empower the underprivileged, disadvantaged and hard to reach persons in the society.

The activities of Airtel Touching Lives are recorded and produced for national television with a view to promoting the spirit of giving, self-sacrifice and love among Nigerians.

The award came six days after the telco bagged the CSR of the Year Award at the maiden edition of the Nigeria Technology Innovation & Telecom Awards (NTITA).

Emeka Oparah, Airtel’s director of Corporate Communications & CSR,; HR Director, Gbemiga Owolabi; Head of Public Relations, Erhumu Bayagbon; Head of Customer Experience, Olubunmi Abejirin and CSR Manager, Chioma Okolie, received the awards on behalf of the company.

Speaking at the ceremony, Oparah said the award is a testament of Airtel’s efforts at connecting with stakeholders in the various communities where it operates, noting that the telco was committed to earning its social license through its corporate philanthropy and sustainability initiatives.

The SERAS – CSR Awards is an annual project, which aims to promote as well as raise awareness about the roles organizations play with emphasis on their responsibility towards   stakeholders and the social development of Africa.

SERA aims to substantiate the case that corporations who are socially responsible stand to gain huge benefits in regards to the triple bottom line – economic, social and environmental capital.

The 11th edition of the Awards which took place in Lagos on Friday, November 17, 2017 brought together sustainability experts, public relations practitioners, brand owners and public office holders.

 

 

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NCC to Make 32 ECCs Operational- Danbatta

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Umar Garuba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that his commission is working to make 32 Emergency Communication Centres (ECC) operational soon.

 

Danbatta, who stated this when a delegation from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons(NAPTIP) visited the commission headquarters in Abuja, said that only five of the 37 Emergency Communication Centres are functioning across the country.

 

The NCC boss, said the ECC Project was intended to bridge the communication gap between the distressed and emergency response agencies in the country.

 

The NCC has undertaken the task of facilitating the building and equipping ECC in all 36 states of the federation and Abuja, according to the NCC boss.

 

“All telecom operators will be mandated to route emergency calls through the dedicated three-digit toll free number, 112, from each state to the emergency centre within that state. The operators, who are resident in the ECC will then process the distress call and contact the relevant Emergency Response Agency (e.g. Fire Service, Police, FRSC, Ambulance, etc.) whose primary duty is to handle the case”, he said.

 

He said many of such centres were been built and provided with equipment across the nation in all six geopolitical zones.

 

Earlier, Dame Okah-Donli, NAPTIP DG while soliciting for the NCC’s cooperation in stopping human trafficking in Nigeria said the telecom industry regulator should help in monitoring, through technology, those behind trafficking within the country and abroad.

 

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