Local operators lament persistent sideline by NCC
Mr. President has anchored his policies towards the creation of jobs for Nigerians. The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Pantami, starting from when he was the Director-General of Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has consistently been an advocate for local content in ICT culminating in the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian telecommunications sector, which has been launched by Mr. President.
Following the outcry of Nigerians in respect to the denomination of the International Termination Rates in US Dollars, which is against the law, the closure of businesses and loss of jobs by discriminatory pricing practices of the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), the House of Representatives held a hearing with Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), MNOs and local operators called International Data Access operators (IDAs), wherein Hon. Akeem Adeyemi, Chairman of the House Committee on Communications made it very clear that their mandate is the welfare of Nigerians and mandated NCC to engage with the MNOs and International Data Access operators to resolve the discriminatory pricing practices denominated in US Dollars that have put local operators out of the business of international telecoms services and have led to closure of their businesses and job losses.
Inspite of this directive by the House of Representatives, NCC has scheduled a stakeholders meeting on this particular issue, invited the MNOs, but have not invited the local operators, International Data Operators, who are adversely affected by the illegal discriminatory pricing practices of the MNOs.
It is instructive to note that prior to the commencement of the new NCC directive on billing in US Dollars, on 1st January, 2022, the IDAs paid an average rate per minute of N29.90 to the MNOs. The payment due to the MNOs per minute including VAT was regulated at N26.25. The Nigerian local IDAs who are licensed by NCC to deliver this traffic to the MNOs can only run the cost of delivering the traffic and make a marginal profit within the balance of N2.75 per minute. The MNOs were already receiving N24.20 without VAT per minute and want to force Nigerian Local International Operators out of business and also take their small margin of N2.75 per minute.
NCC, as mandated by law must implement the policies of the Federal Government, encourage the participation of Nigerians in the telecoms sector and ensure that illegal, unfair discriminatory practices are not permitted in the telecoms sector for the socio-economic development of Nigeria.