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Friday, March 10, 2017

Etisalat-Bank saga: ALTON requests telecom equipment inclusion in CBN 60% forex allocation

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has requested the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure the fast tracking engagement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to include Telecommunications Equipment and Invisibles among the list of items to benefit from the 60 per cent foreign exchange (FOREX) by banks in the country, reports ITRealms.

ALTON, the umbrella body of licensed telecommunications operators in the country, through its Chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo gave this charge in reaction to the threat by some three bank consortium to take-over one of its own, Etisalat Nigeria over inability to service loan facility worth N541bn secured in 2015, saying that inclusion of telecommunications equipment and invisible in the sector in the allocation guidelines, would ensure the continued provision of world class telecommunications services to the consumers.

While commending NCC and CBN recent steps, ALTON said that lack of exemption of telecommunications equipment and services from items to be accorded priority in the allocation of forex by the banks has adversely impacted the industry.

ALTON in a four-page plea, noted that current forex regime will have devastating impact on telecommunications sector, specifically will increase operating cost, prevail an unfavourable credit terms, delay implementation of network enhancement and improvement initiatives, and affect the national broadband plan to name a few.

“Telecommunications equipment is plant and machinery,” Adebayo declared, pointing out that telecommunications service providers are similar to manufacturing firms and deserve to be treated in the same manner. 

“The core network equipment and other auxiliary equipment procured for providing Voice and Data Services are equivalent to plant and machinery acquired by the manufacturing firms for the production of goods and services in the country,” he argued.

Currently, he said that some of the plants and machinery often procured and imported into the country by telecom operators include Radio Frequency (RF) Coverage Equipment (BTS, BSC, Node B, RNC); Core Equipment (MSC, Media Gateway, RMC, CCN, EMM, Packet Core, MPLS Nodes, etc); Transmission Equipment (Microwave, Optical Fibre, RF Planning Tools); Customer Contact Equipment (SIM Cards); and Network Tools (Planning tools, Monitoring tools) among others.

ALTON, therefore, maintained that subsequently the aforementioned equipment are integrated to form a network to provide services of voice, data, Short messaging service, Value Added Service (VAS), enterprise solutions and leased lines, which are finished goods in the telecommunications sector. 

Chuks Egbune/GEE 
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