Stakeholders in the Nigerian telecoms industry have listed the critical issues which should be given urgent attention in order to bring about improvement in service delivery.
These were revealed at a two-day workshop organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in Abuja, where Gbenga Adebayo, the President of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said vandalism, bombings and environmental challenges are hampering network providers.
“While the nose bleeds, the eyes should still be clear enough to look at the causes of the decline in quality of services, which is not the design of the operators. Despite the brilliant regulation provided by the NCC, challenges in the sector remain enormous, ranging from insecurity of telecoms infrastructures, a phenomenon that manifested prominently in the last year terror attack on telecoms infrastructures in some parts of the country,” the ALTON president said.
According to him, the 30 bombed base stations are yet to be rebuilt because of lack of access. He also said the companies are contending with serious environmental challenges in addition to acts of vandalism and theft in remote areas.
Wale Goodluck, MTN Nigeria’s Corporate Services Executive, said his company has recorded more than 70 cases of infrastructural vandalism monthly.
He said: “But when the operators’ facilities are attacked, as witnessed on an increased note recently, industry observers say it puts additional burden on the operators, in terms of extra investment to fix the destruction, during which time cases of congestion may be inevitable.
“Also, the turnaround time in fixing the problem may take few weeks, as total rebuilding of the destroyed infrastructure may be necessary.”
This was also the opinion of Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), who blamed the non-existence of laws to protect telecom facilities as responsible for the ubiquitous vandalisms.
He said: “Though we complain about the poor quality of service as customers, we are also cognizant of the fact that operators facilities are not properly secured by the government as facilities belong to telecoms networks are still not being given the required legal protection status as it is the case in other countries. This, we think, should be looked into by the government and other necessary stakeholders.”
Other challenges noted are multiple taxation, multiple regulations and right-of-way.
Ogunbanjo added: “The imposition process is often fraught with litigations and argumentations which slow down network expansion roll out and service upgrade.”.
On the issue of multiple taxations, he said: “Apart from the NCC, a number of organisations want to impose their laws on the sector. One of such organizations is the National Environmental Standards Regulatory Enforcement Agency (NESREA), whose own laws of environmental impact analysis (EIA) and safety is at variance with that of the regulator and the international community.
“On their own, they decommission base stations. Some councils are also decommissioning base stations for which according to them, the operators don’t have certificate of occupancy, while some hardly respond to request for permit to build base stations.”