Nigerian telecom regulator sees end to multiple regulations, taxes

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The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta says the commission would soon resolve the raging issues of multiple regulations, taxes and right of way issues.

He sees an end in weeks and possibly a month with expected closure on ongoing talks with the Nigerian Governors Forum (MGF), the umbrella body for state governments in Nigeria’s federal structure.

Besides talks with NGF, the NCC, Danbatta has also engaged other agencies of government in talks with a view to improving relationship with telecommunications Service Providers who are often the victims of these taxes and multiple regulations.

Danbatta spoke in Abuja when he received the Management Team of ATC Wireless Infrastructure Company of Nigeria (ATC Nigeria) an infrastructure management company.
Nigeria’s booming telecom sector has had to live with different levels of government itching to have a share of what they consider a new cash cow with several levies and taxes tied around telcos whose operations are often shut down in the states once they refuse to pay the contentious fees.

The EVC said that NCC as a responsible regulatory agency is worried about multiple regulations and taxes because they do not augur well for smooth development of the telecommunications sector “so we have decided to engage all stakeholders especially other government agencies in order to cushion the pains operators go through”.

Danbatta said “the NCC is particularly worried about the indiscriminate way base transceiver stations are sealed by agencies and some State governments and we have appealed to these agencies and the State Governors to show some understanding.”

“We are particularly in talks with them to understand the implications of these actions as they affect quality of service and other sundry matters, including power supply.”

He therefore implored ATC Nigeria to ensure regular power supply to the managed base stations in order to make a difference, because government has created an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

Earlier in his remarks, Chief Executive of ATC Nigeria, Mr. Gordon Porter said his team came to familiarize itself with the NCC management and to “tell you what we do, how we do it and why we do what we do”.

ATC recently acquired 4716 cell sites from Bharti Airtel Nigeria and for the past 146 days it has deployed 1,000 generators and replaced 600 air-condition units.

So far, over $11Million has been invested by the company on these towers with a view to improving quality of service very significantly.

Porter said, ATC has been in constant talks with host communities with a view to improving relations and right-of-way.

Porter explained that although it has a commercial relationship with Airtel, it is interested in working with other operators especially on the issue of co-location adding that ATC hopes to inject about $100Million in the business in the next two years.

The EVC received the visitors in the presence of Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, Chief of Staff to the EVC, Mr. Usman Malah, while Porter led Ms Lucretia Fontaine, Director, Corporate Advisory & International Compliance, Nigeria, Mr. Onyeaghana Oji, Regional Manager, Regulatory and Mr. Dubem Agbakoba, Head, Health, Safety and Environment.


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