25th June 2024
National News News Power & Energy Sci & Tech

Fed Govt, Telcos Differ On Tariff Hike

Communications, Innovations and Digital Economy Minister Bosun Tijani and telecommunication operators maintained different positions on the proposed plan to raise tariff across all networks.

The telecommunication operators under the auspices of (Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) insisted that the hike in telecom tariff has become is inevitable given the realities/outlooks of the present economy.

But the minister maintained that the government does not see an increase as an option.

The operators warned that the epileptic power supply situation might become the fate of the telecom industry should the government continue to block them from raising tariff.

Dr. Tijani argued the Federal Government’s position at a function attended by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Wada Maida and the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, amongst others.

On the MNOs’ side were the Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON),  Mr. Gbenga Adebayo,  the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Karl Toriola, the Executive Vice Chairperson of Globacom, Mrs. Bella Disu, the CEO of 9Mobile, Juergen Peschel and the CEO of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Carl Cruz.

They all made the submissions at the presentation of the GSMA-Nigeria Digital Economy Report and Preview/round-table by stakeholders at the Transcorp Hotel, Abuja.

The minister told the gathering that hike in telecom tariff is not an option, and should not be the only solution to the challenges facing the telecom industry, insisting that government was aware of the challenges and would address them step by step.

Tijani said: “I have noted all the challenges as articulated by all critical stakeholders. I have an appointment to see Mr. President and I will discuss the challenges with him. But hike in telecom tariff is not an option and should not be the only solution on the table.

“We appreciate the importance of this conversation and we will continue with it so that we arrive at solutions that can drive the industry to the benefits of all.”

Tijani outlined the steps taken by the federal government to deepen the growth and development of the digital economy sector, adding that the telecom industry remains the backbone of not just the sector, but all other sectors in the country.

He urged the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to quickly undertake a rebase of the economy to determine the contributions of the digital economy sector to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), saying the government was eyeing about 22 per cent contribution to the GDP.

Given the enormous resources in Nigeria and the size of its population, it had become imperative for government to embark on diversification of the economy to enable the country compete favourably in digital space.

He expressed government’s commitment to improve telecom industry infrastructure; address multiple taxation, Right of Way (RoW); security of infrastructures; ensure improved quality of services and close access gaps through increased broadband penetration.

The minister said: “You’ve probably also seen, with the support of our partners worldwide, we’ve had sleepless nights, putting together the opportunity for us to accelerate investment in our fiber optic network, which is a major target for this administration.

“We believe that in the next two to three years that we can indeed deliver on the 90,000 kilometers of fiber network that is required.

“We believe that if we can deliver it as a country, the sector in itself can become a provider of the same set of services across our region. Nigeria can power the fiber network in Niger, in the Republic of Benin and so many other countries in West Africa.”

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