Many struggling to survive –Danbatta
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has expressed worry over the poor state of many companies operating in the telecommunications sector. This is even as it disclosed that between 2018 and 2020, a total of 27 telecom operators have returned their licences to the regulator as they cease operation.
While the GSM operators such as MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile, may be seen as the face of the telecoms sector, hundreds of other small operators are part of the ecosystem, playing in different areas of the sector. These include the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Value Added Services (VAS) providers, among others. According to the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, many of the small operators are struggling to survive. Speaking at a Talk To The Regulator (TTTR) forum held in Lagos yesterday, the EVC stated: “We are very much aware that not all our licensees are doing as well as they ought to be doing.
Several licensees are struggling to pay their staff, many are unable to comply with basic licence obligations, several are defaulting in the payment of their Annual Operating Levies (AOL), and the level of interconnect and other inter-licensee indebtedness is still unacceptably high.” Lamenting the poor state of some of the licensees, Danbatta, who was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, noted that the industry could only achieve the national interest objectives set out in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) and other policy instruments if most of our licensees are operating at optimal strength.
He said this was why the Commission organised the forum for the operators to table their issues and to identify areas for regulatory interventions. Making a presentation on the licensing trends in the telecoms sector, Deputy Director, Licensing and Authorisation Department of the Commission, Mrs. Emilia Nwokoro, disclosed that 27 operators have submitted their licencees in the last three years.
According to her, six licencees were returned in 2018, four returned in 2019, while 17 companies returned their licences in 2020. While noting that the return of licences by the operators may not be unconnected with operating challenges, she said the forum was to allow the remaining players to voice out their challenges so that solutions couldbe worked out for the benefit of all.