Nigerian fuel scarcity threatens telecoms

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Ongoing fuel scarcity in Nigeria, Africa’s strange largest economy, is threatening the delivery of telecoms services.

Nigeria, country with about 170 million population, hardly generates 3000megawatts (Mw) of electricity forcing businesses, including telcos, to rely absolutely on generators.

In a statement at the weekend, Airtel Networks Limited told its subscribers that while it is doing all within its capacity to ensure high quality services, the biting scarcity is beginning to take a terrific toll on its services as diesel, which it uses to run its base transmission stations (BTS) across the country has also become scarce.

“Airtrel wishes to inform our customers and the general public that the prevailing situation in the country regarding the scarcity of diesel and other petroleum products is presently impacting negatively on our commitments to delivering best-in-class quality of service and seamless telephony experience to all Nigerians.

“While we are currently doing everything within our means as well as going the extra mile to ensure that all our base stations and switches are up and running, it is sad to note that it is becoming increasingly difficult to replenish current stock of diesel due to the lingering scarcity of the products.

“We are also concerned that, if the situation persists, it may have adverse effects on our network, impacting both voice and data services.

“Airtel, therefore wishes to assure all customers that we will continue working with all our partners and stakeholders to mitigate any negative impact as we remain committed to our promise of providing exceptional services just as we seek the cooperation and understanding of all whilst apologizing for any inconvenience at this time,” the telco said.

MTN Nigeria also issued a brief statement, noting: “The management of MTN states that the current diesel scarcity in most parts of Nigeria is posing a significant threat to quality of service and the ability to optimally operate the network.

According to the Corporate Services Executive Akinwale Goodluck, “most of our base stations and switches are powered round-the-clock by Diesel Generators and the current fuel shortage has drastically reduced the availability of diesel fuel supply to key locations”

MTN’s available reserves of diesel are running low and the company must source for a significant quantity of diesel in the near future to prevent a shut down of services across Nigeria. If diesel supplies are not received in the next 24 hours, the network will be seriously degraded and customers will feel the impact.

MTN is working with all stakeholders to ensure that services remain. MTN sincerely apologizes for any outages and inconvenience that may occur and seeks the understanding of customers at this time.”

Many gas stations in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial centre remained shut while hoodlums are having a free day, selling petrol at what is known in local parlance as “black market” at between N300 and N600 per litre.

Scores of people in the city now trek long distance to their offices and places where they sell. The use of bicycle is now becoming popular among residents of the city. This option is however laden with dangers because of the prevalence of a huge number of barely literate, drunken and lawless commercial drivers known as Danfo drivers.

The Lagos State government has taken steps to halt the excesses of these drivers but the presence of unscrupulously corrupt men and women among the rank file of officials of the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA) has made the task daunting for the government which has continued to kick-out those caught engaging in unwholesome practices.


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