Telecomms Has Changed The Way We Live – NCC | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Telecomms Has Changed The Way We Live – NCC

Posted: Jul 28, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Emmanuel Okwuke – Lagos


Telecommunications has changed the way we live our lives, adding value to our lives, what we do,  how we do them, thus making us digital citizens in a global village.

Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) Mr. Tony Ojobo stated this recently, while appearing on some radio programmes in the South-East and South-South Geo-political Zones.

Ojobo told listeners that NCC is absolutely proud  of what has happened, refereeing to the giant strides made in telecommunications over the years in Nigeria.

He said: “We are absolutely proud of what has happened, what we have done. As at January 2001, Nigeria had a population of  over 90 million and all we could boast of were 400, 000 active lines throughout the federation, now as at May this year, 2015, there were about 146.5 million active subscribers on the networks and you know this is an industry that operates on a 24/7 hour basis, there is absolutely no other services where you are serving those numbers of subscribers in a 24/7 basis.

Also, he noted that Nigeria has about 89 million active subscribers who surf the internet daily which is one of the highest in the world. “Now that is phenomenal and what that has done is that it has changed the way businesses are done in Nigeria, for instance, from the comforts of where you live, you can do your banking transactions, you can transfer your monies. Society has gone cashless because of telecommunication”.

On the cost of telephony generally, Ojobo said: “As at 2001 when the mobile operators were licensed, people were paying fifty naira a minute, today you pay as low as 11 kobo per second, in a minute that that gives you 6 naira 60 kobo, so when you speak for like 10 minutes that gives you an indication of what has happened in terms of price reduction in the industry.

Her continued: “There has been a slip in terms of the higher end of the cap. Everyone that is providing a service is not a charity, people have to provide a service. Now you see the pricing model for the telecommunication industry rises with the cost of service provision.

“Look telecommunication operates within an eco-system, where you have  other factors affecting it and one of those is Power. right now power is a major  cost for telecom operators .Why is it so? Now one of the major operators has about 4000 generators across the nation and he has to fuel all of his generators. Now one of them as at last year spent about Four billion naira on diesel.

“Of course the consumer bears the brunt of this. In other climes, where power is not an issue, the cost element is removed from the pricing cost that is moved over to the consumer but of course the good thing is that with the various effort of government in the licensing of independent power producers and now with power becoming a little more stable, that cost factor will be taken out, but even then we have seen a substantial shift from the upper end of the curve”.

Regarding issues in related to the tariff rates in Nigeria in comparison to other countries, Ojobo said:  “We have actually done a study and soon we are going to come out with the publication, looking at the pricing of the Telecommunication in services in Africa, especially in West Africa region.

He added that: “there are  lots of factors involved including inflation in the economy, now as at today you can see that a dollar is about N240, so really the point is that people are assuming that all things are constant and so   price of telecommunications services must keep going down even after the prices of other things keep going up. We are not making a case for the operators here but you see the duty of the   regulator is to protect  the consumer and  the man that is providing the service . It is like referee, a referee is unbiased.

On NCC’s relationship with the operators, he said: “The regulator tries to maintain a very delicate balance, now let me put it this way, could you just imagine if one of these networks , let me say MTN that has about  63 million subscribers if they shut down today because for instance we revoke their license  and shut them down and say they cannot operate any more, 63 million subscribers actually shut off including businesses, hospitals, radio stations, so you know what people want sometimes is just for us to withdraw licenses.

“All over the world regulation is a very intricate thing where you are aware of all the action including consequences of every action you take even the sanctions that you impose have consequences. NCC has set up what we call Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) which are measured on monthly basis and every quarter we look to see if the operators have been having breaches in terms of meeting the thresholds. Now you also look at the situation where there are circumstances or factors beyond the control of the operators  that led them not to be able to meet these targets.