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Friday, August 04, 2006

ULR: VGC, Bodex, MTN, Danjay scale NCC hurdle

…As subscribers reach 25.3m

Remmy Nweke

THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has approved yet another four winners in its Unified Licensing Regime (ULR) which commenced March 1, this year.

The latest winners include VGC, Bodex, Danjey Teleco, and MTN Communications Nigeria, thus bringing the number of licensees in the new dispensation to eight.

It would be recalled that NCC on Saturday, May 13, this year, announced the award of the first batch of Unified Licenses to Starcomms Limited, Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited, Prest Cable & Satellite TV Systems Limited and Intercellular Nigeria Plc.

This is coming as the subscriber base of the nation has risen to 25.3 million as at June 30, 2006.
Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, disclosed all this to newsmen at the one-day seminar of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) tagged Telecom Investment and Finance Forum in Lagos.

Out of this figure, he said that about 24 million are digital mobile lines, that is, Global System for Mobile communication (GSM).

He attributed the growth in the subscriber-base to the boom in private investment in the telecom sector and huge unmet demand and hunger of consumers for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services and the potential of the Nigerian market, banks and non-bank financial institutions have invested close to $8 billion into the sector as at December 2005.

“This was achieved through direct lending to operating companies, vendor finance through equipment suppliers and in some cases, direct equity participation in the operating companies,” he said.

He noted that the role of local and international financial institutions in making this possible is acknowledged, just as he tasked banks and non-banking institutions to make more local funds readily available for telecom sector.

Speaking at the event, President, ATCON, Dr. Ekuwem noted that telecom is second to petroleum and in no distance time would over-take in the economic rating.He also lamented the absence of local content in telecommunications especially the internet, describing the current percentage as abysmal.

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