Airtel Seeks Access to Forex, Wants Telcos to Lead Mobile Money


Sunday Okobi

Airtel Nigeria has called on the federal government to assist telecoms operators to access foreign exchange, just as some manufacturing companies in the country have been given the privilege.
The telco, during a special high-powered reception held recently in Lagos to honour the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, also urged authorities to empower telecoms operators to lead in driving mobile money services in Nigeria.

At the event, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel, Segun Ogunsanya, said: “Manufacturing firms have been given some privileges. We know that foreign exchange is affecting so many other sectors, but telcos do not want to be disadvantaged in getting access to foreign exchange.”

“Telecoms firms also manufacture airtime, so we should also be given access to foreign exchange as well,” Ogunsanya said.

Speaking on how to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria, Ogunsanya said countries like Kenya and Ghana showed better penetration in the area of mobile money services due to the model where telcos lead the service. “So there is need to change the model of mobile money in Nigeria,” Ogunsanya said.

The special reception which took place in Lagos, was organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).

NCC boss Danbatta, in his remark, explained the commission’s activities towards creating an enabling environment for players in the industry.

He said the commission had been working with state governments to resolve issues including indiscriminate shutting of base stations and right of way.

Dambatta urged telecoms operators to comply with the ‘Do Not Disturb’ directive and improve their quality of service to reduce drop calls, as NCC has the capacity to monitor call success and drop calls.

ATCON President, Olusola Teniola, also touched on areas such as proliferation of unlicenced and substandard phones, issues of right of way among other issues affecting quality of service in Nigeria.