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Operators deplore N221 billion loss in telecoms industry

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[FILE PHOTO] Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta. PHOTO: YouTube

Players in the Value Added Service (VAS) segment of Nigeria’s telecommunications market have decried the adverse impact of the ‘Do-Not-Disturb’ (DND) activation on their operations nationwide.

According to the operators, under the aegis of Wireless Application Service Providers Association of Nigeria (WASPAN), activities of the DND had cost them N221 billion in the last two years.

National Coordinator for WASPAN, Chijioke Ezeh, who raised the alarm at the yearly Nigeria Value Added Service Stakeholders’ Forum, organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Lagos at the weekend, said as at 2017, the VAS industry was valued at N300 billion, regretting however that the value had depreciated to N79 billion, representing between a 75 per cent and 78 per cent loss in revenue within 24 months.

Confirming the huge loss, the Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity at the NCC, Bako Wakil, said the commission was working hard to revamp the sub-sector.

Wakil, who attributed the development to the introduction of DND through the 2442 short code by the regulator in 2017, stated that the commission’s intention was not to kill the VAS industry, but to protect telecoms subscribers from getting unsolicited text messages and advertisements from the providers, who were busy milking mobile users of millions through the unwanted posts.

He said: “Two years ago, the VAS industry was worth over N300 billion, but the figure we got today shows it has dropped to N79 billion, which shows it is declining in value, but this is because of the introduction of the DND. The intention was not to bring down the market or the performance of this sector of the economy, but to regulate it as an industry regulator. Our concern was more on the Nigerian consumers who were crying about the kind of money they were losing to DND without their consent. So, we have to address the needs of the consumers, even though this has affected investment in that sector.

“But then, at the end of the day, the consumer is the king. The NCC had to introduce the DND shortcode to stop the messages. If the subscriber does not want such messages, all he or she needed to do was to subscribe to the shortcode, and the messages will automatically stop.”

Contending, Ezeh submitted: “The decline in value is not just as a result of the introduction of DND, but a combination of factors. The embargo on the marketing, and then the introduction of DND were the factors responsible for the decline in the value of the VAS sector from N300 billion in 2017 to N79 billion in 2019.”


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