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Why Government Should Encourage Telcos in Nigeria- Jane Egerton-Idehen

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CFA with Jane Egerton-Idehen, country manager, Avanti Satellite Communications

BY chukwuemeka fred agbata

There is no doubt that Nigeria has one of the largest Telecom markets in Africa as the sector attracts considerable foreign investment.

Over The Top Players, OTTPs, such as WhatsApp, BlackBerry Messenger, Telegram and many others, have significantly affected the average revenue per user of Telecom subscribers and this has adversely affected the overall revenue of the industry.

Questions that are begging for answers includes, ‘where does the industry go from here, having invested billions of dollars?’ ‘How does the Television compete with OTT players who have very little investments in overheads?’

I recently had a chat with Jane Egerton-Idehen, Country Manager, Avanti Satellite Communications and our discussion centered on her thoughts on the way forward for the Telecom industry in Nigeria.

Jane, who has been in the Telecom industry for a while now, thinks that the industry is currently at the threshold of an evolution, where it is about to enter into a transformation phase.

She observed that the growth of the industry is slowing down globally, with declining revenues, although the customers are becoming more savvy and aware in the face of technology that is daily becoming more sophisticated.

In terms of returns on investment, however, Jane thinks that it is not coming in as it should be. She also observed that, one good thing that is currently happening in the industry, is that, there is ample room for growth.

“It is also at a point where we are about to access a new layer of countries on the continent of Africa. Places that we haven’t been before”, she stated. She further observed that, all this while, the Telecom industry had concentrated in the cities, but now, gradually moving into the rural areas.

Jane is of the opinion that investors should be interested in investing in rural telephony because, that is the next phase where the billionaire subscribers will come from. “And that is where technology hasn’t really accessed untapped potentials”, she observed.

She, however, stressed that, for efficient return on investment, the infrastructures used in the cities cannot be used in the rural areas because, the cost model for rural areas has to be lower as the expected revenues from there will not be as much as we currently have in the cities.

“Yes, the technology in the sense of base stations or switches have to be the same, but how can we make the costs lower? How can we make them cheaper? How can we use lower cost models to access them? So, we really have to rethink all these”‘, she posited.

Government can compel investors to invest in the rural areas, through policies and regulations as well as complement the efforts of the investors, In Jane’s view, even though, they might be reluctant to do so because  of the lower returns they are likely to get from there,  coupled with the projected higher cost expected to be used in running the facilities in the rural areas.

To Jane, technology is capable of positively affecting the growth of the rural areas as this is where most of the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SME’s, are located, so, the government should be interested in this. She emphasised that the government can assist in facilitating the process for the investors in areas, such as site cost, customs clearance, swift right of way approvals, etc. She also suggested the use of Satellite KA band of a low cost model for accessibility in rural areas.

Jane believes that the OTT players are making a huge impact in the Telecom industry, even though, they are eroding the revenue accruing to the Telcos. In her opinion, therefore, players in the Telecom industry should be thinking about what to do about it, instead of whining about it.

In Jane’s view, we should take a look at relaxing some of our policies and regulations to encourage Telcos that have physical infrastructures, pay tax and are helping to reduce the unemployment in Nigeria by employing Nigerians to work in their companies. This is in contrast to OTT players who do not have or do these things in Nigeria but take a chunk of the revenues that would have accrued to the Telcos.

“We can demand for things, like they should have physical presence in the country. We can demand that they invest in certain sectors of our industry as a way to give back, for the kind of revenues they are making from our country”, she concluded, in respect of the foreign OTT players.

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NCC: US Delegation‎ Visits Commission, Lauds Regulatory Strides

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(L-R): Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC; Rachel Atwood Mendiola, Manager, U.S Embassy; Engr. Ubale Ahmed Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC; Mudari Aliyu Dura

 

Nigerian Communications Commission NCC, Thursday, received a delegation from the United States Embassy in Abuja,

The team, led by Rachel Atwood Mendiola, Fraud Prevention Manager, United States Embassy, was received by the Commission’s Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, Prof. Umar Danbatta and other top Management staff of the Commission.

The delegation was at the Nigerian Communications Commission’s Head Office to gain insight into the workings of the Commission and to commend NCC’s Management for its regulatory strides in sustaining the growth of the telecommunication industry in Nigeria.

 

Prof.Danbatta while addressing the delegation, recalled to the admiration of his guests some of the Commission’s efforts in ensuring effective regulation of the telecoms sector and providing an enabling environment for telecoms services to flourish, exponentially attributing the Commission’s successes to the faith reposed on it by the consumers and their unflinching loyalty.

 

And that is, the reason the Commission commits itself irrevocably to protecting the interest of consumers and all stakeholders in the industry.

He told his guests that, “NCC continues to be a strategic member and active participant in the activities of many bodies including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), African Telecommunications Union (ATU), and the West Africa Telecommunication Regulators Assembly (WATRA).”

To demonstrate the resilience of the telecommunication sector even in the face of challenging economic climate, Danbatta stayed that the sector contributed about 9.5% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter of 2017 and credited the Nigerian telecom consumers with the successes recorded because of their patronage.

The EVC/CEO of NCC said it is the faith the consumers have demonstrated in the sector that made the Management of the Commission to declare the 2017 as the Year of the Telecom Consumer to celebrate the primacy of the consumer and to rededicate itself to addressing the challenges of the consumer.

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NCC Ignores Telcos, Says No to OTT Regulation

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Prof Umar Garuba Danbatta, NCC’s executive vice chairman

Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC] has said it can’t regulate Over The Top Technology [OTT] for now, refusing the telecom operators’ call that the technology be regulated in the country.

 

OTT operators are firms like Facebook, WhatsApp, 2go, Instagram and others who ride on social media to reach their audience.

 

Prof Umar Garuba Danbatta, NCC’s executive vice chairman disclosed this Thursday when a delegation from the United States [US] embassy paid a working visit to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

 

‘’ The operators are saying we should do something about the OTT. That the OTT is riding on their infrastructure to make money and all other. But it will be very difficult to regulate OTT,” Prof Danbatta said.

 

According to him, though NCC understands the operators’ plight ‘’ the truth is that there is nothing we can do for now’’.

 

The NCC EVC, said he had interacted with head of telecom industry’s regulatory agencies in US and some other advanced economies and he was indirectly told that OTT couldn’t be regulated for now.

 

He also said NCC couldn’t regulate content in the social media as this falls within the jurisdiction of its sister regulatory agency, the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC].

 

He also told the US embassy delegation which was led by Rachael Atwood Mendiola to convince US investors to come and invest in Nigeria’s telecom industry as this is the best time to stake their money in the country.

 

‘’We want investors to come and invest in telecoms infrastructure across the country. I believe they will make their money in no time. Our investment environment is becoming friendlier, our security has improved greatly and the Federal Government had promised some number of incentives for would-be investors.

 

‘’ Plus we still have access gap. We still have about 200 locations across the country yet to have telecom services. This has cut off about 40million people, including people in my local government in Kano. So, investors can come in and take this opportunities.’’, he said.

 

But he said the NCC was working to see the access gaps blocked in the next two years.

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Nigeria to Increase Mobile Broadband Subscriptions to 50% by 2020

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NCC headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria

By peter oluka

Nigeria has disclosed plans to increasing the current coverage of the active mobile broadband subscription per 100 from 20.95 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.

This was disclosed by Mr Bolaji Akinremi, minister plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN, while delivering Nigeria’s statement on ‘Information and Communications Technologies for Development’ at the UN General Assembly’s debate in New York.

Active mobile broadband subscription is the number of subscriptions to mobile cellular networks with access to data communications – like the Internet – at broadband downstream speeds of 256 kilobit per second.

Nigeria’s mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants increased from 1.0 inhabitant in 2012 to 11.7 inhabitants in 2016.

Akinremi said Nigeria recognised the direct impact of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) on the wellbeing of Nigerians.

“The Government of Nigeria recognises the reality that Information and Communications Technologies has direct impact on the nation’s ability to improve the economic wellbeing of its people.

“The Government of Nigeria is committed to facilitating universal availability and cost-effective access to communications infrastructure and promoting utilisation of ICT in all spheres of life.

“Nigeria is committed to achieving cutting-edge global ICT standards, encourage rapid ICT penetration among all socio-economic levels.

“The Government of Nigeria is also committed to increasing the current coverage of the active mobile broadband subscription per 100 from 20.95 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.

“Nigeria is committed to promoting and encouraging local production of ICT hard and software so as to reduce import dependence and generate foreign exchange by exporting to the regional and continental markets”.

He said that involving developing countries in the ICT revolution would bridge the wide gap of access to information among people.

According to him, if the information gap keeps widening, the possibility of attaining sustainable development by 2030 is not certain.

“It is in this vein that Nigeria further calls on Member States to consider giving Information and Communications Technologies a pride of place in the education curriculum. By so doing, they will undoubted bridge the digital divide,” Akinremi added.

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