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Nigerian telecoms operators connect 237m lines despite dip in investments

By Adeyemi Adepetun
19 March 2018   |   4:21 am
Telecommunications firms operating in Nigeria connected 237 million telephone lines as at January this year.

Telecommunications firms operating in Nigeria connected 237 million telephone lines as at January this year.

The operators-MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile- connected the mobile lines in spite of the increasing investments dip in the sector.

This increased the country’s teledensity to 105 per cent.

Teledensity is the number of telephone connections for every 100 individuals living within an area. It varies widely across countries and between urban and rural areas within a country.

January statistics, released yesterday by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), showed that active subscriptions grew to 147.3 million from 145 million in December 2017, an increase of 2.24 million.

Active mobile subscriptions, largely mobile (GSM) saw MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat moving from 144.5 million lines in December to 146.8 million in January.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed a dip in telecoms sector investments in the country, especially from abroad.

NBS noted that foreign direct investments (FDI) in the telecoms sector dropped to $606.6 million in 2017, its lowest in the last three years.

The FDI declined by 35 per cent in 2017 to $606.6 million from $931.2 million in 2016.

According to the NBS, in 2015, FDI in the sector decreased from $994.3 million the previous year to $938.1 million, representing 5.7 per cent dip. There was also a marginal decline in 2016 as the figure dipped by 0.7 per cent to $931.2 million.

Mid last year, the NCC announced that the level of investments in the telecoms sector had hit $70 billion in FDI and local investments since the liberalisation of the sector over 17 years ago.

Meanwhile, the dip in the sector’s investments profile has been blamed on the economic downturn in the country.

Speaking to The Guardian, a telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, said economic instability in the country was discouraging.

Aluko, who hinged the growth in the last three years on economic stability, expressed worries that the dip in investment outlook for the sector was falling, and if nothing was done to arrest the situation, the country may end this year without any major achievement in the sector.

“This has grave impact on the plan of government to his 30 per cent broadband penetration this year,” he said.

Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, said regulatory issues such as multiple taxation and levies imposed by government at the federal, state and local government levels were unattractive to investors.

President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, attributed the declining foreign investments in the sector to macro and micro-economic environment in the country.

He said the country, having been in recession for over two years and the low growth rate of the economy could be discouraging to investors, adding: “Investors will be looking for high single digit or double digit growth rate to invest in.”

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