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Telecommunications companies deplore 45 allegations, say the sector cannot alleviate economic problems

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has lamented the existence of 45 levies and levies, adding that the telecommunications sector should not be used as a mitigating measure to solve economic problems.

Gbenga Adebayo, in his speech at the launch of the Digital Economy Report by the Groupe Spécial Mobile Association (GSMA) in Abuja, highlighted the existence of over 45 related fees and charges imposed on operators despite the alleged removal of priority costs.

However, Bosman Tijani, Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, in his speech strongly rejected tariff increases, which he said were “not a panacea for the industry’s misery.”

But he stressed the need for a comprehensive approach, rejecting the notion that raising tariffs alone could solve problems that experts say could add about 15 million new internet users by 2028.

The Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) has highlighted the potential for significant growth in the Nigerian telecommunications sector with 15 million internet users in Nigeria by 2028 through the implementation of a better policy environment where only 29 percent of Nigerians will regularly use mobile internet.

“We need to deepen and address many of these issues,” he said, emphasizing the multi-faceted nature of the sector’s difficult situation.

He further noted that the government and telecom operators need to work closely to put in place policies that encourage investment and growth, pointing fingers at both government policies and industry associations to chart the way forward.

“Issues of investor perception of our sector require purposeful messaging and policy,” he emphasized, lamenting the lack of tangible progress despite ongoing discussions.

According to Adebayo, the telecommunications industry faces many challenges that hinder its growth and development. He stressed the need for sustainable investment, effective regulation and an enabling business environment to drive progress.

The GSMA Digital Report, launched in Abuja, highlights the 8% contribution of this telecom to Nigeria’s GDP and 13.5% when considering the broader ICT ecosystem.

The report also highlights significant challenges facing the industry, including investment challenges, rights of way, multiple taxation and regulation.

Adebayo highlighted the existence of over 45 related fees and charges imposed on operators despite the alleged removal of priority costs.

He lamented that this had created an unfavorable business environment, discouraging investment and making it difficult for the industry to provide quality services.

He also emphasized that regulatory interference and the lack of independence of the regulator worsen the problem.

According to him: “Price review should be a simple regulatory process. The public debate this has sparked makes it seem like the industry is insensitive to people’s concerns. While the government is trying to provide incentives to the public given the continuing macroeconomic difficulties, the telecommunications sector should not be used as a mitigating measure to solve citizens’ problems.

“We need to price right to sustain the industry; we have to price it right to have the right investment,” Adebayo said.

He noted that the industry must be allowed to operate sustainably, with appropriate investment and regulation, to deliver quality services and drive economic progress.

He also called for the encouragement of stakeholders, including policymakers, regulators and operators, to work together to address the challenges facing the industry to boost economic growth and realize its potential as a key sector of the Nigerian economy.