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Telcos claim N15tr contribution to economy, demand protection

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Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (ALTON)

•Service providers create 600,000 jobs in five years
Telecoms operators have contributed over N15 trillion to the Nigerian economy since the revolution started 18 years ago, latest data from the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) have shown.

The N15 trillion, according to the operators is the sector’s over 11 per cent contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for close to two decades now.

Speaking under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the service providers said apart from the contribution, members have continued to pay over N200 billion in taxes on a yearly basis.

The Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, gave these statistics in Lagos on Wednesday, while addressing journalists on the 20 years anniversary of the body.

Adebayo, while demanding special protection for the industry, stressed that telecoms remain ‘infrastructure of infrastructure’ in the country, and across the globe. He said after 20 years, the sector has produced four GSM operators (MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile); two VoIP operators, four Fixed Wired operators; 172.9 million mobile subscriptions and teledensity of 123.5 per cent.

Adebayo, an engineer, said the country now has over 123 million Internet subscriptions across various technology platforms ( VoIP, GSM & Fixed Wired), with sector contributing 11.4 per cent to GDP as at Q2 2019.

According to him, as Africa’s largest telecoms market (in terms of subscriptions), Nigeria’s telecoms sector has attracted over N68 billion Foreign Direct Investment, and has remained a key contributor to GDP- major driver (approximately 10%) of non-oil sector contribution.

“More critically and beyond growth in sheer numerical terms, telecoms has evolved from being a sparsely-available public utility to becoming a ‘social overhead capital’. It has remained a key enabler of social inclusion and bridging the digital divide.

“• Enabling real-time, everyday communication between citizens who would otherwise have to rely on limited legacy communication channels. Provision of data centre & data hosting services (includes both physical accommodating of servers and provision of hosting services) which power corporate organizations – such that in many cases the entire business-critical information database underpinning such operations is powered by MNOs These include data such as transaction history, customer contact information and email accounts.”

The ALTON Chairman hinged sector’s growths on enabling conditions facilitating market driven growth; independent, and vibrant sector regulator; issuance of enabling regulatory instruments; private sector commitment to investment & business development, and size of market and diverse opportunities.

According to him, the key issues that have confronted the sector include challenging economic conditions; poor state of supporting public infrastructure; rent-seeking approach to taxation, and lingering insecurity of critical installations and equipment.

But going forward and to fast track Nigeria’s digital economy drive, ALTON demands that industry policy objectives should be reviewed and redefined.

According to them, there is need for the sector to embrace concept of ‘connected verticals’; facilitate ‘social overhead capital’ role – industry as a socio-economic development partner, and there must be security for assets and investments

According to Adebayo, prior to the liberalisation and deregulation of the sector, there was absence of policy document articulating sector growth path &development objectives; ineffectual regulatory framework establishing sector regulator; costly access charges, yet unsatisfactory levels of service provision; limited opportunity for private sector participation; wide gulf between service demand and service supply; no competition /total dominance by state-owned monopoly entity, and waiting time for telephone was 24-48 months.


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