Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio
Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, has called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to consider a one-off payment system on the sale of its frequencies, in order to sustain the achievements of telecommunications in the country.
The governor, who spoke in Uyo, Cross River State while addressing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) journalists shortly after the recent launching of the state government house by President Goodluck Jonathan, advised NCC against the introduction of renewable licence fee for all its frequency sales, especially those that support telecommunications services.
NCC had recently held a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos on the planned control of its microwave frequency. Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, stated at the meeting that unless issues of cost, coordination and management of the microwave frequencies were resolved the problem associated with frequency auction may persist.
Juwah told the gathering that various concerns bordering on development, challenges, deployment, techniques, coordination and management of the microwave frequencies must be addressed, in order to improve service quality.
Also, Akpabio, who spoke from past experience as a telecoms operator before the advent of Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), warned that should NCC introduce the yearly licence renewal fee system, it would likely cripple the telecoms sector, just as in the days past, when NITEL monopoly stifled the growth and expansion of telecommunications in the country.
“Instead of introducing renewable licence fee, NCC should introduce the one-off payment licence fee, and allow operators to use such money for their network expansion,” Akpabio said.
Narrating his ordeal as Managing Director of EMIS Telecoms in the 1990s, he blamed the slow growth of telecommunications in the country during the past years, on NITEL monopoly, and warned NCC to allow market forces to determine the growth rate of the industry, as it had been since the inception of GSM in 2001.
He said NITEL frustrated several telecommunications companies in the country with its interconnect policy of 78:22 per cent interconnection rate, which he said, put most telecoms operators out of business.
According to him, NITEL then, was taking 78 per cent commission and giving 22 per cent commission to other telecoms operators for every terminating call, a situation, he said, adversely affected telecoms operators in the country, during the days of NITEL’s monopoly. He added that NITEL, through its monopoly, refused to open up inter-connection deal with other telecoms operators, and frustrated several operators in the process.
He commended NCC for it regulatory policies, which he said opened up the market with speedy growth, attaining over 105 million subscribers with a teledensity of 72 per cent, from a low 400, 000 lines and a teledensity of 0.4 per cent that it used to be in the past years.