On this interview with OLUFEMI ATOYEBI, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, insists that his ministry had no hand within the latest improve in knowledge tariff as a result of it was not a part of its mandate
Nigerians expressed displeasure over the plan to extend knowledge tariff. How did this proposal come up at a time when Nigerians have been groaning beneath financial hardship?
We have now a Ministry of Communications, which is saddled with the accountability of offering political management for the Data and Communications Expertise business. The ministry is concerned solely within the formulation of insurance policies versus dabbling into regulatory points which concern telecommunications.
By regulation, it’s the Nigerian Communications Fee that has the ability to manage, licence and supply frequency. The ministry doesn’t have any enterprise regulating the telecommunications business.
Are you saying that because the Minister of Communication Expertise, you had no hand within the proposal to extend information tariff?
When the NCC wished to extend the so-referred to as knowledge tariff, it didn’t take any permission from us (ministry). I heard it like some other individual within the society. Due to the uproar which greeted the so-referred to as enhance, the Senate got here in to resolve that the NCC ought to droop the brand new enhance and consequently it was suspended. A stakeholders’ assembly was convened by the Senate, I used to be invited with officers within the ministry. The NCC and operators within the business have been additionally invited.
When the information got here out, it was found amongst different issues that the brand new price was really the speed that was suspended in 2013. In different phrases, the operators had been caged in a approach by the regulatory authority to not improve tariff.
Let me present a background to this drawback. Earlier than 1999, Nigeria had lower than 500 traces to a inhabitants of about 152 million folks. As a result of it was unimaginable for Nigerians to speak amongst themselves or with the surface world, the Nigerian authorities known as buyers to come back and spend money on Nigeria’s telecommunications sector.
They weren’t requested to return and do Father Christmas. They got here to spend money on the telecommunications trade with a purpose to earn a living and fulfill the telecommunications wants of Nigerians. The problem that the Nigerian authorities had on the time was that it had the responsibility to offer an enabling setting for operators who got here to Nigeria to take a position. A part of the enabling surroundings to be supplied by the federal government was that electrical energy could be made accessible.
There isn’t a different nation other than Nigeria the place electrical energy can’t be taken as a right by operators. Everyone knows that operators in Nigeria energy their gear with electrical turbines which they alter as soon as in six months. In addition they purchase diesel to energy these turbines day by day. So in a means, Nigeria failed in offering that side of its obligations.
We have now additionally failed persistently in offering safety for the installations within the telecoms business. Numerous these operators’ services have been vandalised by some individuals and as a matter of reality, a few of the personal guards employed to safe these amenities have been killed.
For the operators to put cables, they should dig the bottom and to safe the best for such an industrial exercise, they need to pay by way of their noses as a result of the state governments and native governments will tax them. Generally, they should pay some people who find themselves known as omo onile (land homeowners). When you think about all these components, you’ll conclude that the atmosphere in Nigeria is just not enough sufficient to be considered an enabling surroundings.
Nevertheless as a authorities, we should weigh the curiosity of the individuals and that of the operators, in any other case, if it turns into unprofitable for the traders to work right here, they are going to go away and we’ll return to the pre-1999 period.
So the proposed knowledge tariff enhance was truly being carried out to push the implications of presidency’s failure on poor Nigerians. Is that so?
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