By Oluwatobi Opusunju
The Association of Telecoms Company of Nigeria (ATCON) has decried the over taxing of telecoms companies as well as the exorbitant charges on right of way (RoW) as key factors hindering the growth of the sector. The President of ATCON, Mr. OlusholaTeniola while speaking at the just ended West Africa Convergence Conference (WACC), organized by Knowhow Media and Market Intelligence International Limited (KMMIIL) at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos, if heavy taxation and RoW remain unaddressed, most telecommunications companies will eventually be stifled out of business beginning 2018.
“In Nigeria, our problem is basically getting basic connectivity and if we continue to tax we will never get it right. That’s the issue that we have. The biggest problem and an impediment for everyone here to know is the issue of right of way. We need NCC, NITDA and the necessary departments to have a policy to ensure that RoW is suppressed or the charges are lowered so that the citizens can enjoy the benefits of internet which will therefore improve the community,” he said
Teniola who was speaking at the session on ‘Infrastructures, Disrupters and Regulation,’ warned that regulators may be overseeing transition of operators to the morgue if they fail to quickly intercede. Government primary responsibility is both to encourage businesses to flourish and make affordable access viable.
“You cannot run a business and sell to get a revenue that is below cost, you will eventually kill not only your business but the supply chain that exist when you are running high debt. Debt profiling in the industry is very high and it is not sustainable and we need to be addressing that.If not checked our members will die because of the burden of taxation,” he added.
He also explained that the unhealthy practice is militating against the full rollout of broadband in the country, because there is a high cost attached to meeting the demands of right of way which also results in corresponding high cost of leasing transmission infrastructures.
“Nigeria is targeting 30 percent broadband by 2018 and has merely reached a fraction of about 21.8 percent. A fraction that if you are not in Lagos, Abuja or Port Harcourt, getting or enjoying broadband services will be a herculean task,” he said.
“Government need to create an enabling environment for businesses to grow. This is a time where technology is converging and we can’t afford to be left behind. The 30 percent target itself is not final, there is more that could still be achieved to bring about ease of living and doing business in the country through broadband internet accessibility and an enabling environment is needed for that,” he added.