FG May Privatise NIGCOMSAT over Low Patronage

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NIPOST to begin skeletal operations
James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Communications, Mr.  Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, has said the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited would be considered for either outright privatisation or commercialisation as it is currently under-patronised.

Attributing the lack of patronage to the fact that the communication satellite had only one signal channel, he further directed the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to embark on a research to determine the best option of whether to commercialise or privatise the company.

The minister also said the federal government planned to turn the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) into a mega conglomerate offering services in e-Commerce, e-Learning/Library Services and issuance of the Nigerian Passport and Drivers’ Licence among other security documents.

Speaking in Abuja while receiving the acting Director General of BPE, Dr. Vincent Onome Akpotaire, who paid him a courtesy visit, Shittu said to achieve the objective, the government was planning to constitute a technical committee to proffer solutions to the issues militating against the postal sector and present a policy direction to harness the economic potential of NIPOST.

He further assured Akpotaire that the privatisation agency would be included on the proposed committee, adding that an all inclusive participation of all stakeholders would steer NIPOST towards the desired direction to harness its commercial potential.

Nevertheless, Akpotaire said NIPOST, though in a state of comatose, had sufficient assets to generate economic and commercial services.
He said in view of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN)’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy, NIPOST could kick off skeletal services within the scope of the resources set aside by the CBN, adding that through the vast postal network available to it, the postal service was equipped to deliver financial services to remote areas currently excluded by financial institutions.

He added that the Bureau would present a comprehensive proposal that would serve as a platform to drive the required sector reforms to the minister within a week.

The BPE boss said the bureau would liaise with the National Assembly to harmonise the proposed reforms with the privately sponsored bill on the postal sector which is before the lawmakers.

He further called for an independent regulator in the sector to help broaden the scope and depth of services provided and to ensure transparency as well as position NIPOST to compete favourably with other establishments in the sector.

In a statement by BPE spokesman, Alex Okoh, Akpotaire also noted that the vast postal network throughout the country presented a significant competitive advantage for NIPOST.