" ITREALMS: Conducing to improved investment environment


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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Conducing to improved investment environment

Special Report by Remmy Nweke

The investment in telecommunications, especially by the private sector, has been placed in excess of $50 million between 2001 before the advent of GSM.

Hence, the sector could confidently boost of attracting over $9.5 billion, extensively coming as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and coupled with the rapid expansion plans by individual investors and some key service providers, NCC recently projected that another $3 billion investment is expected before the end of the year, 2007.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the global telecom regulatory arm of the United Nations (UN), Nigeria has become a key player in the sector and thus assumes the position of one of the most desired investment destinations for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the continent of Africa.

The industry observers posited that these achievements could not have been made in the first place without an enabling environment and stable regulation offered by the Nigerian Communications Commission. They noted that conducive policies and enabling environment improve investment potentials in any given society.

Equally based on this, the Federal Government through NCC has earned over $2.5 billion from Spectrum licensing fees alone between 2001 and now, just as the import duties and taxes accruing from the telecom sector have also contributed substantial revenue to the government.

Worthy of note is that prior to the advent of digital mobile services in 2001, cost of subscription to Mtel analogue mobile services was at over N60,000. In 2001, GSM subscription started with a price of over N20,000 per line and ever since has continued to witness a downward curve to an extent it could be picked over the counter with less than N200, while the highest call rate currently is about N50.00 per minute, subscribers could make calls for as little as N25 per minute.

The Commission prides itself as consistently monitoring what prices the operators are offering their services to the public, by approving all tariffs in line with the provisions of the Act and thereafter monitor implementation.

Therefore, industry analysts believe that NCC, has implemented this module as a policy and in line with international best practices, thus placing the commission in a position to adopt policies that would ensure maximum competition to persistently drive down price.

To this extent, NCC said it has done by licensing competitive operators in all segments of the market, adding that Nigeria remains the most competitive ICT market in Africa, with service providers competing fiercely for market share and price of products.

NCC further postulated that instead of intervening in retail call rates, it has instead intervened in determining interconnect rates for the industry, adding that the combined effect of the two interconnect rate determinations in 2004 and 2006 saw a reduction of the mobile termination rate from N18.00 per minute to N11.40 per minute.

Thereby enabling the fixed operators to reduce their retail tariffs for calls to mobile networks to as low as N20.00 per minute and is anticipated to commence another process for reviewing the interconnect rates in the next few months in line with international best practice.

Telecom Consumers Parliament

Overtly as a way of democratic sing its processes of engaging the nation’s telecommunications subscribers both in finding a lasting solution to telecom services and proffering education, NCC initiated the Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP).

This model currently being replicated in most African countries and development markets of the world, received ITU recognition as an initiation that boost customers understanding of services and an innovative and effective mechanism for resolving the complaints of consumers.

In other words, it is a platform that brings stakeholders in a village square format to discuss and iron out issues that may affect the industry generally and subscribers specifically so as to afford them to optimise services available to them.

Participants in this monthly parliament consist of the telecom regulator, operators and consumers, even as it has been acknowledged by consumers nationwide as a worthy venture and is held across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

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