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Telecoms operators exerting pressure on foreign exchange – NOTAP

By on December 1, 2014

Telecommunications operators have been putting enormous pressure on the nation’s foreign exchange as they seek approvals to acquire foreign software to drive their networks, Director General of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, Dr. Umar Bindr, has said.

Bindr who said this at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday disclosed that in the last 12 months, the operators had obtained approvals to spend about N20bn on foreign technology agreements sought by the operators.

NOTAP regulates the importation of foreign technologies by entities operating in the country. It is also supposed to oversee such technologies so that in the long run, they can be domesticated in the country.

When such approvals are given, the operators go to the Central Bank of Nigeria to get foreign exchange and the expenditure on such technologies are tax-free because they are regarded as operational expenses.

Telecoms operators are listed in CBN’s data among the heavy users of foreign exchange. Because of such heavy use of foreign exchange, it is often suspected that the operators see technology transfer agreements as avenues to repatriate funds to their home countries.

The CBN recently devalued the naira because of depleting foreign exchange reserve occasioned by high demand for foreign exchange and low receipts from declining oil prices.

Bindr said the agency has decided to open discussion on the subject with telecoms operators in a summit it plans to host in Lagos on Wednesday.