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Nigeria’s telecoms operators power BTS with 50,000 gen sets


. Expend about N214.3b yearly on diesel

. ARPU down by 87.5% in 12 years, says ALTON

FACTS emerged Thursday that Nigeria’s telecommunications operators power their respective Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) with over 50, 000 generating sets in the country.

   Already, the operators including MTN Nigeria, Globacom; Airtel; Etisalat; Visafone and tower operators including Helios Towers Nigeria and IHS Communications currently have 29, 000 BTS.

   According to the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), in a document signed by its Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, yesterday, the industry is a network of over 25, 000 BTS spread across Nigeria with over 50, 000 generators.

   The Nigerian Communications Commission had at a forum in December 2014, disclosed that the industry was home to 29, 000 BTS and noted that it was abysmally low to carry the traffic on the various networks.

   For effect, NCC declared that the country needed about 80,000 BTS to meet growing telecommunications service demands.

   The Guardian checks showed that the operators now expend about N214.3 billion yearly on diesel for powering the 50, 000 generating sets.

    Specifically, the BTS, with two generating sets consume N325, 000 worth of diesel monthly. 

   A top official of one of the telecommunications service companies, who preferred anonymity, told The Guardian that consumption of diesel by an operator’s generating set depends on the size and age.

    According to him, a direct operator, like MTN, Globacom and others use a 15-20KVA generating set, while those on colocation run a 27KVA set, which are changed sometimes every two years depending on wear and tear forces.

    On the average, he said a generating set consumes three litres of diesel per hour and 72 litres per day and about 2, 232 litres in a month. So, going by the current price of diesel, which varies between N140 and N160 because of the deregulation, it means that an operator spend about N357, 120 monthly and about N4, 285, 440 yearly.

    Lamenting the increasing challenges the operators are facing in the country, Adebayo, an engineer, said high operating expenditure profile has also affected the sector’s Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).

   According to him, ARPU have consistently declined year-on-year, stressing that between 2001 and 2012, telecommunications sector ARPUs declined by over 87.5 per cent, “and subsequently, some operators have reported a further ARPU depreciation of over 13 per cent from year to year.”

    ARPU is a measure used primarily by consumer communications and networking companies, defined as the total revenue divided by the number of subscribers.

   Adebayo stressed that inadequate power supply and insecurity; vandalisation; multiple taxation and regulation among others have impacted seriously on the fortunes of the industry.        

   Lending his voice to the power challenge facing operators and the economy as a whole, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ATCON), Lanre Ajayi said power has become a huge cost element on the operators, stressing that it has become a huge burden.

    Ajayi, also an engineer, noted that if power improves, service quality will be impacted greatly and there would be further reduction in telecoms service and products tariffs.

    He urged the Federal Government to fast track various policies, including the privatization aimed at turning the economy around. He lamented that the power sector privatization was yet to impact on individuals and the economy as a whole, stressing that every loopholes confronting the process should be adequately pluck.

    Also, the President of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Andrew Alli said that several factors, especially poor electricity supply, are responsible for the skyrocketing cost of doing business in Nigeria.

   He expressed regret that most companies operating in Nigeria run on generators because of inadequacy in public power supply, pointing out that this adds to the cost of doing business in the country.

   Ali said if the problem of electricity supply is addressed, the cost of doing business would be reduced.

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