Operators Task Buhari on ICT Devt Bank, Others

Muhammadu Buhari

By Emma Okonji

In order to maintain a steady growth in the telecoms sector as well as address some of the observed anomalies in the industry in the next four years of President Buhari’s administration, telecoms operators have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, consider the creation of an ICT Development Bank and the implementation of existing local content law in the telecoms sector.

The operators who spoke to THISDAY about what they described as the expectations of the telecoms industry in the next four years, said the telecoms industry remained capital intensive and needed huge investments to sustain its achievements, hence the need for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Bank like Banks of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture, that are currently servicing their various sectors.

The President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, said the ICT Bank, when established, would address funding issues in the telecoms sector.

According to him, Nigeria needed 95,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable to provide adequate broadband connectivity across the country, saying that the current level of subsidy support for the telecoms industry was not enough to achieve the feat, hence the need for ICT Development Bank that would provide funding for the telecoms sector.

In the area of local content development, Teniola called on Buhari’s administration to consider enforcement of the implementation of exiting local content laws in the telecoms sector that would address some of the anomalies of the sector. “A situation where some multinational ICT companies employ only foreigners to top managerial positions to the detriment of qualified Nigerians, must be addressed through the implementation of existing local content laws.

“Also a situation where multinational companies operating in Nigeria still prefer to patronise foreign software, where local software is available, will be addressed through the law, if implemented,” Teniola said.

He equally called for a Presidential Executive Order on Right of Way (RoW) for the telecoms sector, insisting that going forward, telecoms operators should pay N145 per linear metre of fibre optic cable laid across all states, as against the arbitrary amounts charged by state governments, which he said were inimical to telecoms growth in the country.

The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, called on President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to ensure the harmonisation of telecoms taxes in the next four years of their administration.

According to him, the issue of multiple taxes imposed on telecoms operators coupled with the closure of telecoms sites, portend great danger for telecoms growth in the country. He therefore called for harmonisation of most of the taxes, which he said were double-imposed on telecoms operators. He also said most of the taxes were irrelevant to telecoms operations in the country, yet state government and federal government agencies deemed it fit to impose such levies on telecoms operations.

“Most of these levies do not have bearing to telecoms operations and if government continue to impose such levies, the government will end up stifling telecoms growth in the country,” Adebayo said, while calling on Buhari’s administration in the next four years, to consider harmonising all telecoms levies in order to save the telecoms industry from total collapse.