A telecom enthusiast, Mr. Segun Okuneye, has called on the federal government to put in place interventionist policies that can give operators the required leverage to support the Nigerian National Broadband Plan(2020–2025).
Mr. Okuneye, who is also the Divisional CEO – ipNX Business made the call last week in a paper titled ‘Protecting Indigenous Telecom Companies to Grow through Interventionist Policies by Government’, which he presented at the maiden edition of Policy Implementation Assisted Forum (PIAFo), organized by Business Metrics Nigeria.
He argued that such policies will help to resolve some challenges in the industry.
“Considering the current relatively slow pace of infrastructure development in the country, interventionist policies by the government have become necessary in order to give telecoms operators the required leverage to support the Nigerian National Broadband Plan(2020–2025)as well as to resolve challenges that impede their ability to deliver seamless services to subscribers,” he said.
Describing interventionist policies as a carefully designed system of guidelines adopted and implemented, monitored with feedback for control and acceleration by a government, Mr. Okuneye noted that such policies will regulate, affect or interfere with decisions made by individuals, groups or organizations regarding economic and social matters in a country.
“Interventionist policies correct market failures, protect sectors or industries of interest, promote the general welfare of the people, maintain competition in the marketplace, and above all, create an enabling environment for resources to be optimally allocated,” he added.
He identified some interventionist policies to include access to funding for telecoms players from financial institutions at low-interest rates, easy access to FOREX at CBN approved rates and provision of special intervention funds for the telecoms sector by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as has been applied to other sectors.
Others are tax waivers and holidays, provision of grants and subsidies to telecoms operators, reduction and harmonization of Right-of-Way charges across states and local government areas and the inclusion of all cost elements incurred by telecoms companies in the provision of services to customers in the proposed “cost structure ”arrangement.
The Nigerian telecoms sector has experienced unprecedented growth over the last years and has been a sector of interest for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The sector will continue to play an important role in our economy while serving as a key enabler for other sectors of the economy.
The sector remains a prime sector to support our drive for diversification as anation. But it is in dire need for some forms of government intervention to address the myriad of challenges facing the sector such as high-Interest Rates, limited Access to Foreign Exchange, High taxation, Steep cost of Right-of-Way permits, denial of permits for infrastructure roll-out, damage to infrastructure and unstable power supply.