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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ALTON seeks incentive for ailing operators

A case has been made to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to provide incentives for ailing operators.

Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, made this disclosure on Tuesday during a courtesy visit by the group to Airtel management team in Lagos.

According to him, ALTON had made representation to the NCC to develop an incentive-based bailout plan for the industry by granting exemptions, waivers or rebates on certain portions of the levy to ailing operators as a means of providing regulatory support, considering the Annual Operating Level (AOL) and payment suspension and reductions of dues payable to the Commission.

This, he said, would further assure the sustainable growth of the industry.

Adebayo accompanied by his executive at ALTON, said that they strongly stood against the House of Representatives Bill on Telecommunications (Equity) (HB173) Bill of 2009.

“This Bill set to mandate shareholding in telecommunication companies: our position was submitted to the Nigerian Investment Promotional Commission (NIPC) on the 12th of May 2009,” he said.

Some of the outlines of ALTON submission include that if the bill is passed as drafted may fundamentally alter the Federal Government’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy and negates the role of NIPC.

“It might amount to re-enacting the indigenization Act of 1972,” he said.

Equally, he said, ALTON had intervened severally on the implication of multiple regulations in the industry and the confusion that follows.

“We engage NCC continuously to assert its responsibility over telecommunications sector oversight and control at the appropriate governmental level,” he said.

Adebayo told the Airtel management team that ALTON is a body duly registered under the laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria as an incorporated trustee, and the industry advocacy group for all providers of telecommunications network and subsidiary services in Nigeria.

ALTON, he noted, was incorporated in 2000 and is currently led by an Executive Council, comprising the Chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo; the Vice Chairman, Mr. Wale Goodluck; Financial Secretary Mr. Tom Iwueze; Publicity Secretary, Mr. Damian Udeh, the Treasurer Mr. Oladipupo Alabi and Executive Secretary, Mr. Kazeem Ladepo as well as an Administrator Mr. Gbolahan Awonuga and the Members in General Meeting.

He explained that the executive council oversees the day to day administration of Secretariat of the Association, which is directly under the supervision of the Chairman and the Executive Secretary.

“We are supported by four standing Committees headed by notable professionals from our member companies in the areas of Legal and Regulatory Committee, headed by Ikenna Ikoku, Engineering Committee, Environmental Committee, Inter Government Relations Committee.

Membership of ALTON he said includes all network operating companies as well as those providing ancillary and other related value added services.

Adebayo pointed out that the major objectives of the trade association is to foster inter-network cooperation and industry harmony amongst all the operators and the regulator, as well as provide a platform for industry cum stakeholders interaction and collaboration for the advancement of the Nigerian telecommunications market.

Welcoming the visitor to Airtel Nigeria office at Banana Island, the Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Rajan Swaroop, commended ALTON and assured that the company has been built on professionalism and have been growing professionals to meet its demand in delivering good telecom services in the country.

He suggested to ALTON to make case for shortening of customer service agent engagement by subscribers to about three minutes to enable accommodation of more needy subscribers.

Alternatively, he suggested that it could be charged to ensure that telecom consumers to be precise on their inquiries to customer service agents.

Another worry expressed by the Airtel boss was that despite business decision to expand, installations of towers takes up to three months to finalise due to some bottlenecks in getting relevant approvals from the government and its agencies.

He enjoined ALTON to take this up with the regulatory authorities so as t find a solution to the aforementioned, just as he assured of Airtel Nigeria’s support to ALTON in its advocacy campaigns among others.

Remmy Nweke

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