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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Alliance urges Senate to make telecom infrastructure critical resource


At the just concluded two-day public hearing on Communications by a Senate Committee in Abuja, with a call by ICT Publishers Alliance for the institutionalization of telecommunications infrastructure as critical national resource.

Chairman of the group, Mr. Aaron Ukodie, said telecom services should be considered as strategic national services so as to free it from the debilitating effect of multiple taxation and regulation from various government agencies at the three tiers of government.

He said that the Alliance in a 24-page presentation to the Senate Committee on Communications public hearing, on problems associated with quality of service in mobile phone operations in Nigeria and co-location, stated that

The Committee chaired by Gilbert Nnaji, he said, held the session for two days and took both oral and paper presentations from stakeholders in the telecom industry.

The perception today among different strata of government, the group noted, is that telecom operators are cash-cows therefore should be milked to no end such that taxations at even council levels are notoriously and arbitrarily imposed in such a way as to make continuous or seamless service delivery impossible.

Mr. Ukodie pointed out that this year alone, the NCC has had to intervene in several locations where telecom infrastructure like base stations were shut by council officials enforcing compliance with imposed taxes by local councils.

“Although cases of multiple regulation and taxation may not be limited to Nigeria alone; our position is that Nigeria can eliminate such cases and become an example to other countries and regions,” he declared in a press statement made available to ITRealms.

According to the group, it is the responsibility of lawmakers, as the repository of the people's destinies, to ensure that laws made do not run counter to the needs, desires and social wellbeing of the people they represent.

Therefore, the Alliance noted that a situation where every agency of government taxes telecom just because they see the industry as the cash-cow, does not and will not augur well for the fledgling telecom industry.
“All of a sudden, for instance, every state government, every local government, and every community has become a law maker unto themselves, churning out one law after another nearly every month or quarter of the year, all targeted at milking telecom operators,” he decried.

The group emphasised that the National Assembly is required to put all these in check, if the telecom industry, especially mobile operators are to continuously grow and deliver quality services to the people.

Maintaining that the recent gazetting of the Quality of Service Regulations by the Federal Ministry of Justice is a right step in the right direction to strengthen the NCC to take some severe measures when service providers are found wanting and that the NCC must also sustain its efforts in the engagement of Drive-Test contractors to carry out continuous quality of service drive-testing in the six geo-political zones and Lagos.

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