The Two telecom issues the Nigerian Government must settle in 2024

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The Two Telecom Issues the Nigerian Government must settle in 2024

Notwithstanding the contribution of the ICT sector with the subsector (telecommunication and information services) to the country’s economy, some telecom Issues have befallen it which has made it incapable of effectively performing for the growth and sustainability of the ICT sector.

In Nigeria, the ICT sector has constantly delivered values and even overtook the oil sector, the country’s economic cornerstone. With the help of telecommunication, the ICT sector has made a huge contribution to the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Like have been mentioned above, the goose with the golden eggs has some issues bothering it which should not be overlooked because it is capable of frustrating banking services and worsening poor telecom services in the new year.

The Two telecom issues the Nigerian Government must settle in 2024

Many telecom issues have befallen the ICT sector which can be ignored but the tower lease issue between the MTN and IHS Towers along with the USSD debt issue between banks and telecom officials should not be ignored because of the adverse effect it may have on the telecommunication and the ICT sector in general.

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Here are the details

USSD Debt Issue Between Banks and Telecoms Operators

The bank and the Telecommunication sector have been involved in a serious dispute concerning the debt incurred from unpaid charges agreed to by the telecoms on whose platform the USSD services are generated to serve the bank customers.

USSD transactions are done using your mobile phone, and this transaction includes the transfer of funds, checking of your bank account balance, making recharges and viewing bank account details even without an internet connection.

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The debt keeps increasing notwithstanding the interventions of CBN, NCC and other crucial ministries. As of the last interventions by NCC, CBN and Minister of Communication from 2020 to 2023, the debt was N42 billion, N80 Billion and N120 Billion.

The worst part is that it has reportedly climbed above N200 Billion with no hope of clearing the debt, And the Telecoms will be forced to withdraw USSD services to the banks from next year.

The Tower lease issue between MTN and IHS an old partner

The media has been updated on news concerning how MTN in its bid to manage their towers against their old partner IHS Towers, farmed out 2500 of its telecom towers to the American Towers Cooperation (ATC) and how the IHS towers could not have any of that.

The MTN has dispelled rumours which have been circulated that IHS has given MTN some improved offers which they have put into consideration by saying that their corporate governance cannot allow the reverse of an already concluded bid.

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As stated by the Chief corporate service and sustainability officer of the MTN company, Tony Okigbo, “our preference is for bilateral renewal, subjact6 to competitive pricing and terms. In this instance, the ATC proposal was superior. So the agreement with ATC over the 2500 sites is final, having gone through a rigorous process involving our highest governance approval.”

“MTN will continue to engage constructively with IHS on further opportunities that may arise, including the renewal of the next vintages of the tower which is coming up renewals in 2025” he added.

Citing health and environmental concerns, an active group that is promoting the sustainable development of the environment known as HEDA (a Nigerian Civil Society Group) has filed a case to get an injunction restraining MTN and ATC from sitting new base stations where there are already existing stations that are near to each other.

The trial Judge of the federal high court sitting at Lagos ordered ATC Nigeria and MTN Nigeria to restrain from commencing, continuing or completing the construction, or erection or installation of any base transceiver station/tower/masts (BTS) that is close to existing IHS’s BTS or operating any within proximity to IHS existing BTS pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

MTN Nigeria was also ordered by the judge to restrain from moving, relocating and transferring any of their telecommunication equipment from IHS whether through its servants, agents, privies or even assigns to any BTS site that is erected, constructed or built by the ATC Nigeria pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

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Meanwhile, a top industry stakeholder said: The issue between MTN and IHS is unfortunate, it is a transactional issue. But if the NCC refuses to wade into the matter, we may lose part of the country’s fortune in 2024.

“What is the issue? MTN is the biggest telecom client of the IHS in Nigeria. Globacom manages its towers, ATC manages most of Airtel’s towers and now MTN is gradually transferring their site to ATC which means the weak 9mobile cannot sustain IHS business in the country all alone.”

“ATC has made improved bidding, it invested in clean energy resources a long time ago which means that it runs on renewable energy which in turn will help MTN reach its targeted zero-emission ambition, unlike IHS which gets its energy from diesel.”

“Also, MTN’s deal with ATC is naira dominated against IHS’s which is Dollar dominated and has further compressed MTN during the crazy forex regime.” He further stated.

In conclusion, at a recent meeting with the stakeholders in Lagos, the new NCC EVC, Dr Amina Maida, promised to look into the two Telecom Issues as seriously as he rejects poor quality service from the operators.

And not until these problems are fixed will have to encounter several problems which may be difficult for him to handle.

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