NITRA Forum to Address Issues of Over-regulation in Telecoms

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Emma Okonji

Industry stakeholders are set to address the issues of over-regulation in the telecoms industry, from various agencies of government at a forum being organised by telecoms reporters under the aegis of the Nigerian Information and Communications Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA).
The forum, which will hold next week in Ikeja, Lagos, seeks to have open discussions on telecoms regulation, with a view to averting possible hike in telecoms tariff, that could be triggered by over-regulation.

The programme being sponsored by Airtel Nigeria, will bring together industry stakeholders to brainstorm on the theme: “The Impact of Over-Regulation of Telecoms Industry on Service Quality.”
The seminar will bring together industry regulators including the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) as well as representation from the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS) and Zinox Group, among others.

Already, most industry stakeholders have confirmed attendance at the one-day forum to be chaired by the Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo.
The General Manager of Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Authority (LASIMRA), Mr. Babajide Odekunle will be the keynote speaker at the event with Airtel Nigeria making another paper presentation on the theme of the event.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, will give an overall review of the telecoms industry, the value that the sector has added to the Nigerian economy, as well and the effect of multiple regulations on service quality.

The Acting Director-General of NITDA, Dr. Vincent Olatunji; President of ATCON, Olusola Teniola and Chairman, Zinox Group, Mr. Leo Stan Ekeh, among other stakeholders, are expected at the seminar.

Telecoms subscribers are said to be losing about N750 million annually to intermittent poor service quality such as call-drops, unfair billings, charges on Value Added Service (VAS) not subscribed to, among others.

Giving insight of the telecoms industry and the need to organise the forum, the Vice President of NITRA, Mr. Stan Okenwa said: “Nigeria Telecoms industry has grown significantly in the past 15 years in such a way that it is now regarded as one of the fastest-growing in the world. Nigerians telecoms has, indeed, witnessed exponential growth in the last 13 years moving from active subscriber base of 400,000 with teledensity of 0.004 per cent to active subscriber base of 157 million with teledensity of 107.01 per cent, as of June 2016 statistics.”

He noted that despite the growth, more conducive regulatory environment needed to be provided for the network so as to be able to deliver quality service for their growing subscriber base.
“It is our belief that the forum will provide opportunities for industry stakeholders to dialogue on regulatory challenges facing the operators and their effects on the service delivery to the subscribers. It will also help in offering workable solutions for effective industry regulation that will bring about greater growth of the over $38 billion telecoms industry,” Okenwa added.