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Government interference threatens telecoms growth – NIG

By on January 4, 2015

The President, Nigeria Internet Group, Mr. Bayo Banjo, says poor quality of service and bandwidth challenges still exist because the Ministry of Communications Technology and the Nigerian Communications Commission are making excessive interference in the private sector.

He said this while reacting to the gaps and challenges apparent in the sector at the end of 2014.

Banjo said the ministry and the commission needed to stay strictly to making policies, rules, guidelines and regulations, rather than involve in the telecommunications business.

According to the NIG president, it is important that the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson and the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, adhere strictly to these.

“So rather than find a way to hand over Nigerian Communication Satellite to the private sector, and allowing Galaxy to bid for jobs, they are now trying to remain in the game and expand their influence, like with the creation of Infrastructure Companies as regional monopolies,” Banjo said.

He told Saturday PUNCH Business that the ministry had done well with the awareness centres, but stated that it had not set up the required infrastructure and philosophy to develop vibrant policy.

Reacting to criticisms against the broadband campaign that was introduced by the minister in late 2013, Banjo said the proliferation of broadband was dependant on the private sector.

He noted policies that would encourage this were essential, saying, “In the end, it is the private sector that would implement.”

“Have they come out with the right policies? No, in that respect, they have failed, and it is because of not setting up the required infrastructure and philosophy to develop vibrant policy that is the cause.

“For instance when members have different views these should be argued, and debated, between those known to present unbiased views, who are unafraid to logically defend their positions. Those that can do this are known, there is no certificate, or office held that show this, the industry knows them.”

The President, Association of Telecommunication Company of Nigeria, Lanre Ajayi, however, disagreed, stating that with the auctioning of the 2.3 GHz band spectrum, the broadband project was “very much” on course.

“The 2.6GHz spectrum that is also important to broadband deployment is scheduled to have taken place, but unfortunately that could not hold as scheduled,” Ajayi said.

The ATCON president said that in the area of submarine cables, some level of sufficiency had been achieved on the soil of Lagos.

On issues bordering on the National Transmission Capacity, he said, “We don’t have sufficient capacity within the country that will connect cities to cities, but this is being addressed through the licensing of Infrastructure Companies.”

“If we are able to enhance our capacity and able to release enough spectrums, like the 2.6GHz, I want to believe we would be on our way to addressing the broadband challenge.”

Meanwhile, an industry observer, Ikem Okuhu, faulted Ajayi’s view on the broadband campaign, saying the campaign had taken the resemblance of the Brand Nigeria project.

He said, “The campaign now seems to market a project that did not exist on the ground and that negates the very existence of marketing.”

Okuhu said broadband campaign presupposed that there would have been a broadband infrastructure and other critical enablers. “It is when we have this that a campaign for uptake can make any sense.

“But from facts on ground, there is absolutely nothing to show that players in the industry (the private sector inclusive) have invested in the infrastructure that will activate and enable a broadband experience,” he added.