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Airtel CEO: Enabling Business Environment Will Encourage Telcos to List

Goddy Egene

Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, has said that telecommunication firms in Nigeria can successfully list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)and contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of the country if the enabling environment is created.

There have been calls for telcos and leading oil and gas firms to list on the stock exchange as a way of deepening the market and spreading the ownership of the companies.

Speaking at the 2017 Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) annual national workshop in Abuja last week, Ogunsanya explained that an enabling business environment, policies that promote ease of doing business and market forces in line with best practices are key factors that can encourage telcos to list on the NSE.

The Airtel CEO spoke on: “Creating an Enabling Environment for Public Listing of the Economy’s Commanding Heights: The Case for Telecoms Sector.“

According to him, following the liberalisation of the telecoms sector in 2001, the nation has benefitted in terms of employment creation, attraction of foreign direct investments and social-economic development.

He said: “The sector currently accounts for 10 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and therefore makes it a critical national infrastructure. In addition, connectivity among Nigerians has been enhanced with the 145,350,702 active lines as at May 2017, investments in the sector as at Q1 2017 stood at $68 billion with foreign direct investment (FDI) contribution amounting to $35billion, while over 10,000 direct jobs and 1.3million indirect jobs have been created.”

He stressed that telcos are committed to providing qualitative world class services and in turn contribute to the socio-economic development of the country, noting, however, operators are still facing challenges which stifle growth and inhibit services delivery.

The Airtel boss therefore, urged government to address lingering industry issues such as multiple taxation, prohibitive right-of-way fees, broadband spectrum pricing/ availability among others.

He noted that high interest rates are a major draw-back on use of debt financing, while fluctuation of foreign exchange rate has adversely impacted use of debt financing, just as adverse market conditions occasioned by recession have adversely impacted viability of public equity alternatives.

The CIS annual workshop themed: “Transition from Recession to Global Economic Power: A Working Template for Nigeria” was a convergence of stakeholders in the nation’s financial services sector.

It was organised in conjunction with the Nigerian Capital Market Institute, a training affiliate of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market.