Inflation, forex scarcity hurting telcos, says MTN

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

MTN Nigeria CEO Ferdinand Moolman has lamented that factors such as inflation, forex scarcity, low tariff regime and others hurting the development of the telecoms sector and fast eroding the gains of the sector.

Speaking with Senate Communications Committee members investigating the vexed issue of data tariff floor imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which was later suspended, Moolman said MTN is committed to continue its efforts to provide the best data network to the people of Nigeria.

He identified factors that impact the sector’s sustainability to include the rise of headline inflation to about 17.9%; the depletion of operator revenues by unlicensed providers of “over-the-top” telecoms services who do not have any physical presence; nor pay any taxes; nor make any significant contribution to employment or other socio-economic objectives of government in Nigeria; and the inability of operators to access foreign exchange (this is particularly debilitating given that most of our inputs are sourced off-shore). This has very significantly increased both operating and capital expenses.

“Despite these macro-economic challenges, telecom tariffs have declined significantly (over 67% between 2007 and 2016) and data prices are amongst the lowest on the continent. With this in mind, MTN looks forward to the cost study as confirmed by the NCC, and remains committed to working with the Regulator and Industry to ensure fair value and fair competition in the Nigerian market.

“MTN remains unrelentingly committed to the sustained provision of affordable and accessible voice and data services in accordance with the National ICT and Broadband plan. In line with this commitment and to continue the provision of high speed data services to its esteemed customers, MTN recently bid for, and acquired the 2.6GHz LTE spectrum at the cost of $96million. MTN also launched 4G LTE services, enabling faster access to digital platforms and igniting socio-economic development with a multiplier effect on the economy.

“MTN actively contributed to the development of the National Broadband Plan, and has consistently taken every step to facilitate the achievement of Government’s objectives of pervasive, cost-effective and sustainable access to data services by all strata of Nigeria’s population. The company continues to be an ICT development partner to the government and people of Nigeria,” Moolman told the upper legislative chamber.

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