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ATCON to host Pantami in Abuja - ITREALMS

ITREALMS : The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has concluded plans to host the Minister of Communications...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

NCC must brief minister properly ATCON

Umbrella body of registered telecommunications companies in the country, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has advised the industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that the newly appointed Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. (Mrs) Dora Akunyili, is more properly briefed.

Reviewing the industry in a chat with newsmen in Lagos, at the weekend, the National President, ATCON, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, said that should as matter of urgency ensure it briefs the Minister more properly, so as to position her for the challenges ahead.

Welcoming the minister on behalf of ATCON, Ekuwem, who also is the group chief executive of Teledom International Group, noted that they are excited on her enthusiasm and keen interest to move the industry forward.

He was quick to remind her that the tide has now changed since she assumed office as the Federal Minister in charge of Information and Communication, advising her to play according to the game by being aware of her limits.

That way, he said, there would be harmony and peaceful co-existence among the industry players including between her ministry and NCC as well as the larger stakeholders.

“At NAFDAC, she was a regulator and now, she is a honourable minister. Presently, she is not a regulator as far as telecommunications is concerned,” he declared.

The ministry, ATCON said, should concentrate in making relevant policies that would improve the state of things in the country.

“The ministry should not co-regulate telecom. The turf of regulation is on NCC, while policy making rests on the ministry,” he explained, stressing that this points needed to be clarified because of what ATCON observed at the just concluded stakeholders’ forum held in Abuja.

Dr. Ekuwem maintained that he believes that NCC did not brief the minister appropriately, otherwise, things could not have tilted toward only consumerism-based discussion at the stakeholders forum, rather than how to improve the industry holistically.

Describing Akunyili as one Nigerian that is intellectually sound, ATCON called for understanding among stakeholders, while urging her to use her good offices in ensuring that Nigeria invest its oil money in the development of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).

Ekuwem further said that ATCON’s annual repackaged conference and exhibition, ComBIT, which made its debut last year was a success story, revealing that in the near future, it could be rebranded CeBIT Africa, if the current clamour by some stakeholders is anything to go by.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government last weekend told telecom service providers to ease the pains of subscribers by insisting on an immediate reduction on the tariff.

The government also said that a lot of the challenges presently confronting the operators on the poor quality of service would become a thing of the past as soon as they take to the option of infrastructure sharing.

Information and Communication Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili, gave this indication in Abuja at the Stakeholders’ forum, and said government stance is informed by the incessant cry of the citizens against the poor quality of service delivery level when they pay so much for the services.

“The cost of mobile telephone services in Nigeria may not be the most expensive in Africa, but it ought to be amongst the cheapest, considering our large population, and huge demand for communications. At present, there are only very few liberalized countries in Africa with higher tariffs than what obtains within Nigeria,” she said.

Emphasising that Nigeria’s government want to show concern that operators are empathetic to their subscribers.

“By the time we have the next meeting; I want us to start congratulating you. If you reduce tariff, then you will encourage us to say these people are out to help us,” she said.

The Ministry, she pointed, is aware of the huge maintenance and operational cost of their Base Stations and the reported problems of infrastructure vandalization, and had made efforts to put this into context, and can safely say that tariffs can and should be reduced.

“To this end, it is our resolve to pursue strategies that can lead to the creation of an efficient telecommunications sector based on fair competition, service quality and low tariffs,” she said.

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