NCC writes CBN over forex scarcity, declares emergency on services

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it has formally written a letter to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the plight of telcos in respect of scarcity of foreign exchange (forex).

Its Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Danbatta who told top management staff of the carriers during an interactive session on Quality of Service (QoS) in Abuja, said Emefiele was favourably disposed to addressing the forex needs of the telcos.

As a follow up to the letter, its Executive Commissioner (Stakeholders Management), Mr. Sunday Dare had a meeting with Emefiele and extracted a commitment from him on how he hoped to address the forex needs of the operators.

Meanwhile, the NCC yesterday declared a state of emergency on QoS, and expressed worries over the degenerating services provided by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other service providers across the country.

Danbatta said since the NCC had declared 2017 as the year of the consumer, all hands should be on deck for telecom consumers to experience quality services. “The consumer has to be treated with dignity” Danbatta added, saying the “8-point agenda drives this point home”.

The NCC, he explained, has put measures in place to check and monitor QoS on various networks “and we have sent this report to our task force on QoS and have been interacting with governments at different levels as part of the measures to deal with the poor QoS”.

Danbatta admonished the operators and co-location service operators to provide suggestions on how to address the situation.

Earlier, NCC’s Executive Commissioner (Technical Services), Mr. Ubale Maska had said, QoS has been a great concern as consumers inundate the Commission with complaints.

“It requires everybody’s input if the situation has to be redressed, hence 2017 has been declared the year of the Consumer”.

NCC Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity (DTSNI), Dr. Fidelis Ona, explained that the Commission is aware of some of the challenges which include Right of Way (RoW), force majeure, difficulty in acquiring new cell sites, multiple taxation and regulation, vandalism, power supply among others.

“We are engaging stakeholders, including Industry Working Group on Quality of Service, special committee on Counter Harmonisation to address this,” he said.

NCC’s Head, Quality of Service Unit, Engr. Edoyemi Ogoh in his presentation traced poor quality of service to fibre cuts, community issues, among others.

He said in October 2016, operators experienced 175 cuts across the nation while they recorded 180 cuts in November and 103 in December, 2016.

There were 113 community issues in October 2016, 74 in November and 133 in December, adding that fibre cuts and community issues remain major drawbacks for QoS.

In their various presentations, some of the operators painted a grim picture of their encounters especially in an economy that is going broke.

Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at MTN Nigeria, Mr. Hassan Jamil expressed delight with the interactive session, ‘so that the regulator can know our situation one on one basis…’

He said demand for both voice and data services are on the rise but we are unable to catch up on investment because of scarce forex availability.

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