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Governments Milk Telcos with Taxes, Levies

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Omobola Johnson, minister of Communication Technology has said that 70 per cent of the investment by the telecommunications operators goes to various tiers of government in the form of taxes and levies.

Johnson, who spoke during a Small and Medium Enterprises’ Summit at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja on Wednesday, said several governments in the country were laying too much burden on the telecoms operators.

She listed other challenges facing the operators to include cable cuts in different parts of the country, blowing up of base stations, high cost of right of way and refusal of permit for critical infrastructure.

“Out of every naira investment in the sector, 70 kobo goes into different shades of taxes,” the minister said.

To tackle the problem of multiple taxation, Johnson said the Ministry of Communication Technology had initiated a programme that would reduce the tax burden on the states and increase investment in telecoms infrastructure.

She said, “We have four states that have signed up for the Smart State Project. These are Lagos, Anambra, Ondo and Gombe states. What they are doing is to work with us to remove all the bottlenecks to rolling out ICT infrastructure so that we can have better broadband and better voice services in their states.

“We are hoping to enrol all the 36 states but we want to start with the few states. All the telecoms companies have signed up to this. The states have said that they would reduce the taxes on ICT infrastructure; ensure that the base stations are protected; reduce the cost of right of way to lay fibre; and ensure that the fibres are also protected.

“The telcos have also said, ‘If you give that to us, we will increase investments in your states to ensure that you get more broadband and better voice services’. It is a quid pro quo. What that does is that it allows us to roll out infrastructure in a more systematic manner.”

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NCC to Order Telcos to Refund Illegal Deductions from Subscribers

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said it may soon order telecommunication operators to refund illegal deductions from subscribers.

 

Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, EVC, NC, said the illegal deductions were made in five months.

 

He said 58,965,478 total Active Broadband Subscription on 3G and 4G platforms was recorded as at November 2018.

 

Danbatta explained that Internet subscription grew from 107,547,723 in October 2018, to 108,897,679 in November 2018, while Active Voice Subscriber base grew from 165,239,443 in October 2018 to 169,104,830 in November 2018.

 

The commission also disclosed that Nigeria has exceeded 30 per cent broadband penetration target, as it the record stood at 30.9 per cent in November 2018.

 

Danbatta who was represented by Sunday Dare, executive commissioner, Stakeholders Management, said Nigeria would achieve close to 50 per cent broadband penetration by 2019.

 

According to him, contributions of Telecommunications and Information Services to GDP from Q1 to Q3 2018 were N4.7 trillion, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

 

In the last quarter (Q3, 2018), the amount stood at N1.5 trillion, according to Q3 figures reported by the NBS.

 

Danbatta said that Telecommunications and Information Services Sector grew by 14.7 per cent from Q1, 2017 to Q3, 2018.

 

The NCC has also promised to reduce call masking across the nation by 80 per cent before 2020, noting that about N6 billion is lost yearly to call masking

 

The executive vice chairman disclosed that tracking technology has made the commission to reduce call masking by 21per cent as at August 2018, even as nine offenders have been arrested.

 

He said the commission had in the last six months, took proactive measures through investigation and efforts to reduce incidents of SIM boxing in the country by 32 per cent.

 

According to Dambatta, call masking/refilling occurs when an international call is terminated in Nigeria as a local number.

 

He stressed that perpetrators have ulterior motive of profiting from price differentials between international and local calls termination rates.

 

He added that a SIM box has the capacity to receive and transmit calls undetected.

 

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Danbatta Reaffirms Commitment to Provision of Broadband Infrastructure

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L-R: Aremu olajide, chairman, Technical Committee, Reprsentating ALTON Chairman, Mr Emma Okonji, Chairman, Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) and Dr. Henry Nkemadu, Deputy Director./ Head, Special Intervention Projects, NCC at the 4th Quarter Seminar/Induction Ceremony of the Nigerian Information Technology Reporter's Association (NITRA) held in Lagos

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission on Friday reemphasized the commissions’ commitment in ensuring the provision of broadband infrastructure across the country to achieve last-mile connectivity.

 

He stated this at the 4th Quarter Seminar/Induction Ceremony of the Nigerian Information Technology Reporter’s Association (NITRA) held in Lagos.

 

The events theme was: ‘Achieving Last-Mile Connectivity through Affordable Broadband’.

 

Danbatta, who was represented by Dr. Henry Nkemadu, Deputy Director./ Head, Special Intervention Projects, NCC noted that Nigerian Communications Commission will ensure the provision of broadband infrastructure across the country to achieve last-mile connectivity.

 

He added that Communications Sector is a catalyst that would provide the needed infrastructure that will enable other sectors of Business, Education, Health, Agriculture, Governance, Finance to thrive.

 

According to him, “the Communications Sector provides the infrastructure to enable other infrastructures in the different sectors of Business, Education, Health, Agriculture, Governance, Finance and so on.

 

“The importance of this sector has continued to enhance human capabilities such as healthy life, knowledge, creativity, collaboration, innovation, self-organization and participation in the social, economic and political life of the country as well as impact on economic growth through productivity gains.”

 

He also revealed that the commission’s activities have impacted on efficient improvements in service delivery that enable national development.

 

Danbatta explained that telecommunication acts as an enabler to drive socio-economic growth, developments and modernization across all sectors of the economy.

He added that robust and reliable telecoms service lies on adequate broadband infrastructure which will provide the needed impetus to achieve last mile connectivity.

 

He further stated that the Commission has made plans for massive deployment of 5G infrastructure in the country.

 

He said, “At the Stakeholders Consultative Forum on 5G Readiness and High Altitude Platform Station Technologies in Abuja recently, the Commission announced its plans for massive deployment of infrastructure for the new technology.

 

“5G has the potential to be transformational for communities in Nigeria because of the set high requirements for 5G networks: fast, ubiquitously available services provided by infrastructure deployed across all regions.

 

“The 5G technology has significantly faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices.”

 

Mr Emma Okonji, Chairman, Nigeria Information and Communications Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) while delivering it opening speech said that broadband infrastructure is an enabler for economic and social growth in a digital economy.

 

He commended the 15 member committee inaugurated by former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to draw up national broadband strategy for a work well done.

 

He further commended NCC for achieving the 30 percent broadband penetration target that was set from 2013 to 2018.

 

Okonji extolled Danbatta’s passion for broadband development in the country, adding that it has further deepened broadband penetration and grew it to the 30.9 percent that we currently achieved.

 

Engr Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) decried the hostile business environment in the country, noting that it’s the reason why CDMA Company’s died.

 

He therefore called on the media to help in sustaining the environment by ensuring accurate reportage of the sector.

 

Adebayo, who was represented by Engr Aremu Olajide, chairman, Technical Committee, appealed on the media to always research on some of the laws being implemented by the state governments and ask questions on the areas of irregularities, citing the tax disputes between the Kogi government and mobile network operators as an example.

 

He condemned the multiple taxation Telco operators are being subjected to in the industry.

 

He further called on the support of the association in sustaining the industry through effective reportage.

 

Also speaking at the event, Dr. Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director of Rack Centre, said that cloud technology will transform Nigeria and Africa if we deploy it in sachet format.

 

He added that Nigeria run what he called a sachet economy, where we buy things in sachet form, stressing that deploying cloud in sachet format will ensure that it gets to the citizenry easy and faster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NCC Says Nigeria Loses $60Bn Annually to Call Masking

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said the Nigerian telecom industry loses about $60 billion dollars annually to call masking. Call masking is a process where international calls are terminated as local calls.

This NCC said has posed serious threat to the telecom industry but noted that the Commission has proffered solution to the problem.

Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, dropped the hint on Thursday at the 86th Edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP), entitled: “Overcoming Challenges of Call Masking/Refiling: Task Ahead for the Telecom Industry, on Thursday in Abuja.

Danbatta, who spoke through the Executive Commissioner Stakeholders management, Sunday Dare, noted that globally $54-$60 is lost to call masking but added that the Commission is taking proactive measures to curb the menace.

He said: “We don’t have the exact figures for Nigeria but globally $54-$60 is lost to call masking. This shows that it is a global menace which is not specific to Nigeria and it is possible because of innovative technology that is available.

“We talk about the VIOP which is Voice Over Internet Protocol, we talk about the OTT; Over The Top platforms where you do WhatsApp and all other video calls. These are innovations and technologies that allows for some of this to happen.”

“But we are happy to say for the last eight months, the NCC took very proactive measures, through investigations, we worked with our taskforce to have been able to reduce the incidence of sim boxing in this country by 34%.

“When you look at the roadmap so far, 2016, it started, in 2017, we started investigations. We moved from reducing it to 24% to 34%. I think the most critical point is; we have tried to look for a technological solution to solve what is a slight technical problem.

” As I speak, we have found a solution after the prove of concept. That solution has been tried in Lagos South West and about nine people have been arrested in the basement of a house and a few cars in which you have the boxes in their booths.

“We have tried that concept, it is working and we hope to launch it in January. If it is launched in January; I can assure Nigerians that before the end of 2019, we would have had 80% reduction in call masking,” he explained.

The EVC then called on the public not to hesitate to report cases of call masking to NCC, promising that appropriate measures would be taken against such persons.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Director Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, stated that the forum allows for face to face encounter with the public and Stakeholders in the telecom industry and the theme is aimed at ensuring national security and a level playing ground for all telecom licensees.

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