The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and telecoms operators have jointly condemned the rising wave of multiple regulations of telecoms companies by some agencies of government, especially at state and local levels.
The industry stakeholders spoke in unison at a seminar organised in Lagos recently, which sought to address issues of over-regulations on quality of service delivery in the nation’s telecoms industry.
They spoke at the forum organised by the Association of IT Reporters Association (NITRA) and sponsored by Airtel Nigeria with the theme: ‘The Impact of Over-Regulation of Telecoms Industry on Service Quality.’ Executive Vice Chairman,NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said NCC remains the only statutorily- empowered national agency saddled with the responsibility of regulating telecoms industry.
Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said while ‘over-regulation’ is the operating word in the theme of the seminar, “It’s either we are too strict with what we are doing at the Commission to the extent that we are impacting negatively on the industry we are created to protect or there are other bodies whose incursion into the Commission’s terrain is creating too much discomfort for those operating in the sector.”
He said in spite of a seeming convolution of activities, which affect the health of the industry, there have been good stories about the industry, as telecoms contributed N1.58 trillion to GDP in the second quarter, according to National Bureau of Statistics report.
While noting that the regulator has unveiled an eight-point agenda, which include facilitating broadband penetration, improving quality of service and facilitating strategic collaboration and partnership, among others, Danbatta said NCC has helped to reduce infrastructure deployment charges in some states while it continues dialoguing with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NFG) on the need to reduce unnecessary levies on telcos in their quest to boost Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR).
The National Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, who was the chairman of the occasion, noted, “Today, regulation in the name of revenue generation, is a major hindrance to the satiability of the telecom industry and a threat to our broadband penetration objections as well as the entire vision 20: 2020 objectives of the government.”
According to Adebayo, “multiple and/or unlawful levies, taxes and charges are increasingly imposed upon telecom operations by myriad ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government at all levels in a way to subtly regulate the industry.”
Also speaking, President of Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, who was represented by the association’s 1st Vice President, ST Vice President, Mr. Anthony Nwosu, said, “there is no doubt that the incessant shutdown of telecoms facilities by multiple regulatory have an adverse effect on the quality of services offered by operators in the industry.”
According to him, the outages occasioned by these shutdowns negatively impact quality of service indices such as reduced call completion rates, increased call drop rates, increased voice quality impairment, and transmission quality impairment.
“The overall implication of these is heightened consumer dissatisfaction with the quality of services provided by operators.” Director General of the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA), Mr. Babajude Odekunle, said while the agency does not license telecoms operators, its mandate is to regulate public infrastructure to ensure human safety.