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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ATCON advocates true liberalised power sector

Lack of genuine liberalization of the public power system in the country could mean throwing good money after bad on the problem without commensurate results, according to the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).

The group in its 2011 outlook made available to ITRealms Online on Sunday and endorsed by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Ajibola Olude in a five-point agenda, said that the absence of genuine liberalization of the power sector, would not aid the industry.

ATCON also said that it believes in a truly liberalized electricity delivery system, the one which would encourage private investment into generating, transmitting and distributing electricity under independent and proper regulation.

“A system that is not underpinned by the tenets of choice, competition and freedom to do business under independent and fair regulation, is anything but liberalization,” ATCON said.

On the frequency management, ATCON noted that the net industry and social benefits of an efficient frequency management system is yet to be attained.

“Its mismanagement poses real threat to investment and expansion initiatives,” ATCON said, stressing that developing skills in this special area represents an antidote to predictable catastrophe in planning, allocation and management such that the industry reduces pollution and increases re-use.

Olude said that ATCON would align itself with all efforts which seek to improve the industry in this regard.

Also, ATCON said that independence of the regulator should not be compromised or coveted to selfish aggrandizement.

“To the extent that the operating law has given very commendable independence to the regulator from which the industry has immeasurably benefited in the last decade, it is important that we counsel that such independence is not subject to officials’ whims and caprices capable of derailing the march,” Olude said.

The independence of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as the telecom regulator, ATCON said, has truly been threatened in the past two years but fortunately, the ICT sector has a judiciary, press and industry players that have stepped up to the mark and showed its resolve guaranteeing that we continue to move in the right direction.

“The Advance Third Generation (3.5G) and the N6.1billion debacles are prime examples of undisguised attempts to compromise the independence of the Commission,” ATCON said.

They further argued that ATCON is not against moderating the regulator, but called for a clear line of demarcation between the boundaries of moderating and of unhealthy interference.

ATCON pointed out that the outlook was released as part of the implementation of the 2011 business plan, it welcomes collaboration on initiatives which conform to its mission for the year.

The framework and process of implementation to get endorsement and collaboration has been laid out and the areas of focus for industry development additionally include optimal exploration of convergence, ubiquitous broadband access.

“It is fundamental that the industry is ultimately restructured to reflect the changes that are already taking root and imposed by technological advancement. The benefits of these changes will not be realized by simply willing them to happen but rather by matching those aspirations with credible and tangible investment,” ATCON leadership said.

The group maintained that it is desirable for the nation to develop knowledge and skills in emerging technologies as there is a reservoir of knowledge in this realm that needs to be tapped into.

“A failure to do so will perpetuate our paying over the odds, and for poorer and outmoded services,” ATCON said, promising to mobilize awareness and motivate of members, investors, and businessmen, to invest in appropriate infrastructure construction for the benefit of all Nigerians.

Concerning ubiquitous broadband, ATCON said the primary duty of government is to provide access to e-resources for all the citizens and it cannot for reasons of liberalization shirk discharging of its responsibility.

“This extends to providing necessary support to industry players. One good case is the extension of broadband infrastructure across the country as well as providing incentives and financial support to fledging and upstart companies who show promise to disperse major broadband infrastructure and forge ubiquity of access. This is essentially the panacea to mobilizing all Nigerians for production. We shall pursue this and collaborate with others to do so,” he said.

Remmy Nweke:
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