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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Embrace capital market - Ndukwe tells operators

Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has called on the big telecom operators to embrace the capital market.

According to him, they should consider heading to the stock market to give Nigerians the opportunity to own shares in their companies.

Dr. Ndukwe who was fielding questions from newsmen on allegations against his commission by the chairman, House Committee on Information and National Orientation, Hon Dino Melaye, also said this cannot be done through regulation by the NCC.

“I am one of those who believe that more of the big telecom companies in this country should think of going into the stock market to give Nigerians the opportunity of owning shares in these companies. Unfortunately, the NCC is not permitted by law to legislate on that, but I know that our legislators can do that,” he said.

He said that without being forced each of these companies could decide on their own to go into the stock market, stressing that there is need to expand the ownership structure of the companies to include more Nigerians.

The EVC said, being quoted in the market will lead to more transparency as there will be nothing to hide.

“We shall continue with the advocacy on that score and see how it goes in the coming years. Two companies in the telecom market sector have already gone and we hope more will go,” the NCC boss said.

On alleged plans by some operators to raise tariff, he said he was not aware of any such plan, pointing out that no operator has approached the commission for tariff increase.

“I have read it in the newspapers like anybody, because, there is no single company that has approached NCC for tariff increase. Not to my knowledge. And any company that is increasing tariffs today would be shooting itself in the foot because there is too much competition in the market already. I will be surprised if any of the companies is contemplating increasing its tariff,” he said.

Ndukwe further said, the NCC intends to hire consultants to see if there will be another reduction in interconnect rates, noting that when done, there will be further reduction in tariffs rather than increase.

“I do not think there is any truth in that allegation except that some people want to use it to become popular. You know there is this populist agenda going on. When somebody wants to be popular, he picks on something that is sensitive like tariffs. We at the NCC are surprised because there was neither whisper about it, nor application from any operator.

“I know some operators made some remarks because of some problems they were having with a particular local and state government, but no formal application has been made to the NCC and if such application comes, we know how to respond to it. So, as far as I am concerned, it does not have any background,” Ndukwe submitted.

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