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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ALTON decries extortion of operators

Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has decried the extortion of telecommunications service providers in the country through indiscriminate levies and charges by the agents of government both at the states and local governments.

Briefing the media last weekend, ALTON Chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said the group’s attention has been drawn by its member companies to several complaints received on indiscriminate imposition of levies and charges on telecom operators in their localities.

“Some of our members have lamented on the practice by some state governments, local
governments and other government agencies in the imposition of indiscriminate levies and charges on telecommunications operators and their operations within their localities,” he said.

ALTON, he said, views these developments with serious concerns and as a trend, which if left unabated, will inevitably reverse the gains and advancement recorded in the Nigerian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

“With dire consequences on the country’s socio-economic development and growth,” Adebayo said.

He pointed out that operators are engaged in infrastructure build-out activities that are otherwise government’s responsibilities and involve huge capital cost, all in their desire to support government and provide efficient, affordable telecommunications services and improved quality of life for Nigerians.

“It is also public knowledge that operators subscribe to alternative sources of power supply for an average of 20 hours per day through the use of power generating sets, a minimum of two units per cell site,” he said.

He recollected that in some localities operators generate their power by 100 per cent.

“In some places generating sets in fact served through 100 per cent dependency on power generators, and operators often provide other amenities that includes access roads to enable it provide services in localities where public infrastructure are virtually non-existent,” he noted.

According to him, these are only few of the series of associated costs, which on their own are economically unviable and continues to adversely impact service delivery and threaten the operational integrity of telecommunications service providers.

“We are primarily concerned that the immense efforts of our members at this time to deal with the challenges of improving quality of service in the industry, by engaging in massive rollout of equipment and infrastructure, is currently being undermined by the various arbitrary and indiscriminate charges, fines and levies at different levels of government,” Adebayo said.

ALTON, he said, believes that most of these occurrences are ill-motivated and driven by parochial revenue generation strategies employed by certain elements within the affected levels of government in the country.

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