The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), yesterday told the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami that telecom regulation all over the world is a process and Nigeria shouldn’t be an exception.
This is coming on the heel of the directive from the Minister to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that telecom operators in Nigeria should review downwards data price within five days, calling them illegal data deduction.
“Please go, sit down and review the issue of data price. It is very important and I want to get your feedback with that report in the next five working days with the decision on it because the complaint from Nigerian is beyond what I can handle as it is today, people are complaining,” Dr. Pantami told NCC while presenting Barrister Adeleke Moronfolu Adewolu, the new board member and Executive Commissioner to him in Abuja yesterday.
But speaking to a national newspaper, the chairman of ALTON, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, noted that the Minister’s directive is dictatorial and capable of eroding the gains of the telecom sector by scaring away investors who have invested heavily into the industry.
“Reduction not possible. NCC should be allowed some level of independence to do its work of regulating the telecom industry,” he said.
Bewildered by the directive, Adebayo wondered how it will work, without first putting a place a good framework that will save the huge investments made by the telecom operators. “I don’t know how the government is going to achieve data reduction in five days. Have they put into consideration the high cost of operating our businesses and the very harsh operating environment in Nigeria,” he asked.
He advised the Minister to stop muzzling the regulator but allows it to do its regulatory functions, disclosing that NCC does not just sit and fix tariffs, stressing it is always a product of a survey, research and benchmark based on what is obtained in other climes.
He added that the issue of data price is a commercial matter, and when policies interfere with commercial matters, the industry will be jeopardised.
“Government needs to be careful not to whittle down the powers of the regulator,” he advised further.