FG Threatens Telecom Firms, Asks Them to Get Listed on Stock Exchange

  • Fashola: FG targeting 30% electricity generation from renewable energy mix by 2030
  • MTN Foundation has spent over N16bn as CSR

 Dele Ogbodo and Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, has appealed to telecommunications companies operating in the country to get listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), even as he said the government is set to wield its big stick on defaulters.

He said the directive has become compelling so that Nigerians across the different strata can also be part of the success stories of the telecoms revolution by becoming part owners of the companies.

The minister spoke at the MTN and Lumos partnership for generation of solar energy for Nigerians last Monday night in Abuja. He identified the lack of electricity supply as the greatest challenge to doing business and governance in the country.

Shittu said: “I appeal to telecoms companies that before government wields the big stick, they must get their companies listed on the NSE so that Nigerians can also be part of the ownership of these companies.
“I’m sure that none of these companies want to rush out of Nigeria in a hurry because Nigeria is such a big market for every operator.

“To whom much is given, much is expected. I want to appeal that you do the utmost to ensure that you get on to the NSE and ensure that the citizens can be part of this revolution and can be part of the ultimate gratitude that Nigerians have been bringing to you.”

The minister admitted that he and many Nigerians are not happy over the low quality of service from the sector, stressing that the ordinary citizens of Nigeria are not happy that services are far below expectations and they are not ready to listen to any excuses.

He said Nigeria is probably the only country that would invite investors into the telecommunications industry to come with their expertise and capital and yet expect them to generate the energy they need to power their networks.
In his remarks, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), said government was working on incremental additions of the different renewable energy mix to add 30 per cent electricity to the national grid by 2030.

Fashola said: “I want us to study what is going on around us and take time to study those that we want to be like have not dispensed with coal, gas and hydro.

“We are ramping up slowly on the renewables like, who solar, wind and biomass. But the total aggregation of all the renewables does not exceed 30 per cent and the reason for this is simple, each form of energy has its own limitation.”

The minister while welcoming the collaboration between MTN and Lumos on the solar power generation, said power generation in the country has not been done on sustainable basis.

“I therefore welcome this partnership between MTN and Lumos. I say that because in the cause of my tour of duty it was evident to everybody who really cares to look back for the size of Nigeria’s population and certainly we don’t have enough power in sustainable form.

“Therefore, the quickest thing to do was for us to get incremental power as quickly as possible and in a sustainable basis.

“So what we need to have is what we have developed an energy mix for the country, that seeks to achieve 30 percent renewable in the near 2030. This form of partnership like that of MTN and Lumos takes us closer to that goal.” he said.

Also speaking, the Chairman of MTN, Mr. Pascal Dozie, said MTN as a corporate entity is willing to support cause that will help to advance the country. He admitted that the fusion of innovative communication technology and energy is good news for the growth of the economy.

According to him, “MTN loves Nigeria and wants to contribute to the welfare of the country. Don’t judge us harshly where we are sleeping, because MTN Foundation has spent over N16 billion on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the last few years.”

Also corroborating Fashola’s view, the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, said the telecommunication outfits must allow their shares to be open for public subscription at the NSE. Shittu explained that the government will eventually take punitive actions against firms that fail on this.

He added that the firms must be willing to give Nigerian investors the opportunity to be part of their businesses and the eventual outcomes from them in terms of profits and losses.

“My final appeal is to the telecommunication companies, that before the Nigerian government wields the big stick, it is imperative that at this stage of our development, they must get their companies listed on the stock exchange so that Nigerian citizens can also be part of the ownership of these companies,” said Shittu in his remarks.

He further stated: “I am sure none of the telecom company wants to rush out of Nigeria in a hurry because Nigeria is such a big market. To whom much is given, much is also expected and I want to appeal to you that you do the needful to ensure that you get on to the Nigerian Stock Exchange so that Nigerian citizens can be part of this revolution and the ultimate gratification that Nigeria will bring to you.”

The minister equally called on telecommunication companies to improve on their services to consumers, stating that instances of drop calls, unsolicited messages, and poor services are being recorded across board.

Meanwhile, MTN and Lumos said that through their partnership, they would target to reach one million Nigerian homes over the next three years with the SHS to enable them generate and use solar electricity in their homes and small businesses which they can pay for using their mobile phones.

According to them, the mobile-enabled SHS would offer off grid electricity customers in Nigeria access to energy as a service, and it will come with a large 80W solar panel unit and solar cable, solar control unit with eight sockets DC 12V, USB mobile phone adapter, two powerful light emitting diode (LED) bulbs, and easy self-installation mounting kit.

They said when installed, the system can be used to power bulbs, computers, fans, computers, and any other electronic gadget within the 12V mark. It will also charge phones and has a five year-warranty, and is enabled by the use of airtime credit and GSM-based machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity which remotely controls and monitors usage, billing and performance.