The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo yesterday revealed that about 21 telecommunications operators have gone into extinction in the country in the last 10 years.
He cautioned that that if care was not taken, more service operators might still close shops before the year ends.
Adebayo, who was a panelist at yesterday’s Broadband Summit 2017 in Lagos with the theme: ‘Broadband as an Enabler of Economic Growth,’ organized by BusinessDay Media Limited said as at 2006 ALTON had 35 members, “but between 2007 and now, we have been reduced to 14.”
Checks by The Guardian showed that many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have either gone under or have been acquired by bigger operators.
The likes of Multilinks, Starcomms, Reliance Telecoms; MTS First Communications; Disc Communications, WiTel, O’Net (Odua Telecom), Rainbownet, Monarch Communications, XS Broadband, Webcom, among others have exited the country’s telecoms space.
Last year, the last surviving Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator, Visafone, was acquired by MTN.
The ALTON Chairman explained that the operators, which had exited the Nigerian telecoms space, did so because of economic and operational challenges.
He noted that the economic challenges include poor power generation; multiple taxation; exorbitant Right of Way levies; insecurity and over regulations, among others, while the operational issues are anti-competition; lack of roll out funds, among others.
Adebayo added that government at all levels must protect the telecommunications sector because of its immense contribution to the growth of the economy, stressing that within the last five months, the surviving operators lost over 20, 000 batteries to theft and vandals.
He disclosed that some of the batteries, according to investigations carried out were sold to some inverter operators in the country.
According to him, if theft of batteries from cell sites by vandals in the country continues, “the resultant effect will be felt by all, especially in the areas of poor services. This is why it has become very important for the sector to be protected.”
Meanwhile, stakeholders are pessimistic about Nigeria’s ability to meet the Federal Government’s 2018 broadband target.
Though, Nigeria currently has 21 per cent penetration, the Federal Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), which was championed by the former Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson targeted 30 per cent penetration and 80 per cent Internet penetration across the country by next year.
But stakeholders however, at the forum considered it not realisable on the basis that the current economic situation is not encouraging enough to command needed and required investment to drive the growth.
They complained that Nigeria was lagging behind in the implementation of major part of the NBP, which has a five-year time frame (2013 to 2018).
Source: Guardian NG