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Tariff Review Crucial To Prevent Catastrophe In Telecoms Sector, Operators Warn

Akinola Ajibola  
Updated May 9, 2022
A smartphone user dials a USSD code on his device. Channels TV/ Benjamin Oluwatoyin.

 

Members of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) have asked the Federal Government to consider an upward review in the costs of voice calls, Short Message Services (SMS), and data in the country.

They warned that the action has become important to prevent the nation’s telecommunication sector from slipping into a catastrophic situation.

ALTON Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, gave the warning on Monday on behalf of the group during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

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“We just expect that fairness will prevail and all those who are responsible will have a critical look at what we face so that we can have a sustainable industry,” he said. “We must warn that there is no industry that is immune to failure.

“And for us to avoid any catastrophic situation in our sector, we are saying let’s look at the reality of our pricing; let’s look at the challenges that we face, let government itself do something in order to mitigate against having this kind of explosion.”

Data Don’t Lie

Amid calls for a price hike by the telecoms operators, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given an assurance that it would resist such move by the companies without adequate approval.

But the group stressed that rather than considering the plight of its members, the government went on to introduce an additional five per cent excise said to be effective from June 1.

Adebayo, in his reaction, lamented that telecoms operators were billed to pay over 30 levies and taxes to the government at different levels.

He advised the government to look at the challenges being faced by the telecoms operators and intervene by way of using regulatory instruments to address the issues raised.

According to the ALTON chief, the telecoms sector should be declared a national critical infrastructure to make it as important as the oil and gas sector.

“We are confronted with different economic realities from what we were facing the last time (when) we were on television, and the fact remains today that if you look at the economic indices, the current pricing regime is not sustainable and what we have done is to approach our regulator to present a case to them to say this is where we are as an industry, and we did make some recommendations on what to should be done,” he said.

“Considering the current global energy prices, considering the challenges that we face in our operating environment, and if we are not getting any regulatory intervention, it will be a bit difficult to sustain the industry with the current pricing regime that we have.

“Even the National Bureau of Statistics itself has released information about the trend of inflation in the country since the beginning of the year till now; so, the data will be there to speak for itself.”